n the collective imagination, the string quartet is associated with the great classical repertoire, but in the past twenty years it has inevitably been affected by the experimentations of contemporary music and by the influence of the increased circulation and popularity of jazz. Thus the creation of a “non-classical” string quartet which, however, borrows the classical quartet’s discipline, technique and founding philosophy. The Alkemia Quartet became immediately interested in the works of Giovanni Sollima.
Shih’s (b. 1950) music seeks to express intense psychological states, often beginning in despair or distress, but offering at least some hope of progress toward light and redemption. The substantial orchestral pieces, Crossing the River and Separation, consist of organically evolving soundscapes, punctuated by tolling or thundering percussion effects, with, as one commentator has written ‘almost complete abandonment of melody and measure’ and indeed a considerable degree of license afforded to the performers in matters of pitch and ensemble. Harsh dissonances, clusters and extended techniques abound, and the results are undeniably impressive, especially the massed textures of Separation, with its organ clusters and 1960s-Penderecki sonorism.
Reissue. Features the latest remastering. Includes a Japanese description, lyrics. Features original cover artwork. The music of George Gershwin, but taken to some great late night territory by the trumpet of Charlie Shavers! The album's a sublime "with strings" date – one that has Charlie blowing beautifully over backdrops from Sy Oliver – charts that certainly use some string instruments, but often in a very spare, mellow way – so that once Shavers gets going, his trumpet is right out front – often with a beautifully moody tone! Titles include "I've Got A Crush On You", "Embraceable You", "Liza", "Summertime", "But Not For Me", and "It Ain't Necessarily So".