CD Review | De mille feux – “To shine with a thousand lights” (Leaf Music, 2022)

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De mille feux – “To shine with a thousand lights”
Andara Quartet: Marie-Claire Vaillancourt and Jeanne Côté, violins; Vincent Delorme, viola; Dominique Beauséjour-Ostiguy, cello
Leaf Music (2022)

The Andara Quartet’s latest offering, De mille feux, bubbles with the sheer joy of harmonious, passionate music-making. Based at the Université de Montréal, its reputation extends internationally to the delight of sold-out audiences. The members—Marie-Claire Vaillancourt (violin), Jeanne Cote (violin), Vincent Delorme (viola) and Dominique Beauséjour-Ostiguy (cello)—were guided since their formation by the great cellist Denis Brott (at the Conservatoire de Montréal). Their warmth, musicality and focused playing imparts a warm, distinctive sound.

The full gamut of human emotions is reflected in the nine songs by composers Samuel Barber, Benjamin Britten, Kelly-Marie Murphy and James K. Wright over 90 minutes.

Notable characteristics of the group’s cohesive style are traceable to the individual players. Depth and delicacy emerge from cello pizzicati in the Andante Sostenuto from Barber’s String Quartet in B Minor, Op. 11, while seamless tossing of phrases crosses horizontal and vertical lines in the Allegretto. Sublime cohesion and pathos emerge from viola and violins in Britten’s String Quartet No. 1, Op. 25, and a foreboding glissando marks Kelly-Marie Murphy’s Dark Energy.

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Tracks 7-10 reproduce Ellen at Scattergood by James Wright, a beautiful contemporary work which had been premièred by the Andara Quartet. The composer’s stated objective, to create a universally relatable work, is performed flawlessly.

As executive producer, Wright deserves credit for curating a collection marked by diversity of styles: dance-like rhythms, poignant and contrasting dynamics, lyricism and chromaticism. And the performers’ execution is positively magnificent. The CD will delight for fans of all classical music genres.

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