If you've been to Spektral concert, you've no doubt bumped in to composer Tomás Gueglio-Saccone (you should really watch where you're going, Bumpy McStumbleton). Tomás has been a friend and advocate since the earliest days of the quartet, and we are happy to be gently funneling his Decals II into your ears on June 12th. Tomás has a few things to say on the subject of said funneling:
We've got Mikel Kuehn's String Quartet No. 1 "If on a winter's night..." on the bill for YACHT ROCK and we can't wait to get this alluring work back on stage after premiering it in May. Rather than the typical apply for grant –> receive piece from composer –> perform piece dynamic, we were lucky to workshop with Mikel throughout the development of the piece...and become friends in the process.
Serious Business, the Chicago-based Spektral Quartet knowingly calls its collection of four pieces exploring humour in music. And there’s no question of the foursome taking any of this music lightly: these are superb performances, vivid and strongly felt, convincingly argued and full of rich, characterful detail.
‘This album is not funny,’ writes Spektral Quartet viola player Doyle Armbrust in his booklet-note about the quartet’s very not-funny new release of music by Sky Maeklay, David Reminick and Chris Fisher-Lochhead, with Haydn plopped down surreally in their midst. The resulting geeky, highly interactive, creative and collaborative fun and games drenched in pop culture are, as advertised, unlike anything its intended audience - or anyone else - has ever heard.
Humour in music can be in short supply but the Spektral Quartet did its best to remedy that in an upbeat evening celebrating its recent CD release. Cellist Russell Rolen introduced Sky Macklay’s Many Many Cadences: (2014), grinningly referring to it as ‘sadistic’. Macklay’s dazzling exercise sounds as if she collected the endings to dozens of works and then grafted them together in a series of descending scales. If it is sadistic for the musicians, it is sheer pleasure for listeners, especially with the Spektral players’ ear-tickling precision.
"Things have already fallen apart at the outset of Beat Furrer’s String Quartet No. 3; the center has given way to a marginal babel: scrapes, scratches, plucks. On Sunday at the Goethe-Institut, the superb Chicago-based Spektral Quartet, making its Boston debut, took on Furrer’s challenge of reassembling such halting signals into coherence — while still, in its playing and programming, drawing out the equivocality of Furrer’s undertaking: striving toward communication, uncertain of the possibility."
"The front cover of “Serious Business,” the Spektral Quartet’s new album, shows three members — violinists Austin Wulliman and Clara Lyon, and cellist Russell Rolen — walking toward the camera, earnest looks on their faces, while the fourth, violist Doyle Armbrust, is falling helplessly on his behind. On the back cover, Armbrust is seen writhing in pain while the other three are shown in poses of desolation and mourning — for his viola.
It’s the perfect advertisement for an album whose works incorporate humor, in wildly disparate ways, into the often severe matter of contemporary music. The photos also say something important about Spektral’s talented and ambitious musicians: serious about the music, not about themselves."