If the gentlemen of Spektral Quartet were to pick favorites from the group’s repertoire, George Crumb’s “Black Angels,” Hans Thomalla’s “Albumblatt” and Thomas Ades’ “Arcadiana” would certainly be on the short list. Taking these cutting-edge pieces northward on October 20th, the quartet will be featured on the final day of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Unruly Music Festival. It’s a concert that’s been a year in the making, and Spektral is amped to be performing for an audience adrenalized for new music in equal measure to its own.
Following on the heels of its Black Angels staging at University of Chicago’s Logan Launch Festival, the crystal goblets, tam tams, metal plectra and amplification gear head up I-94 to the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Crumb’s landmark work inhabits the stateside spiritual unrest whirling out of the Vietnam War. With electric insects, rattling bones and the voice of God contained within this numerological marvel of composition, Crumb’s score sounds as original and fresh today as it did in 1970.
Populating a similar level of mystique, Ades’s “Arcadiana” is a menagerie of quoted Renaissance paintings, Mozartian and Schubertian nuggets and exquisitely layered writing on the part of the composer. The audience is taken through the bleary streets of Venice, a bloody death tango and fated boating expeditions to Paradise in this feat of string acrobatics.
The Arditti Quartet is the only other ensemble to have taken on Northwestern University composition prof. Hans Thomalla’s “Albumblatt,” and Spektral has been working closely with the composer over the past year on this extraordinary score. Like the memories awakened by a photo album (from whence the piece derives its name), the piece’s most arresting feature is found in four-part glissandi that pause, momentarily, on microtonally-constructed tonal chords before continuing on into the ether. The experience is alternately disorienting and familiar.
Spektral anticipates a season highlight with its debut appearance at Unruly. It has certainly never worked this diligently for a Spotted Cow run…
UNRULY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Saturday, October 20th
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
929 Water St.
Tickets are available from the Marcus Center box office (414) 273-7206 and Peck School of the Arts box office (414) 229-4308
$12 adult / $10 seniors / $9 UWM students / $5 ages 13-18 and PSOA students