CD Review: High Voltage Chamber Music (Navona records)


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High Voltage Chamber Music

Jan Järvlepp (composer)

Sirius Quartet
Arcadian Winds
Jae Cosmos Lee

Navona records NV6366


After two critically acclaimed albums in 2020, Ontario composer Jan Järvlepp returns with High Voltage Chamber Music, which presents four chamber works recorded between 2019 and 2020 and performed by the Sirius Quartet, Arcadian Winds and the formidable American violinist Jae Cosmos Lee. Järvlepp’s style is normally distinguished by the effective use of orchestral forces, a quality evident in his large-scale works. His writing for small ensemble bears witness to the same architectural thinking. Composing for quartets and quintets, Järvlepp remains just as logical and impassioned as in his symphonic works. The resounding and anxiety-provoking melodic motifs of the first and third movements of Quintet 2003 (2003) intertwine with clarity and intensity through a development that keeps the listener spellbound. This is where Järvlepp’s talent lies: under his pen, the cogs of the work disappear to make room for the music and the immediacy of the emotions it evokes. Swapping strings for winds, Woodwind Quintet (1995) offers the same lightness despite the dense writing. Praise is owing the playing of the musicians of the Boston ensemble Arcadian Winds. Bassoon Quartet (1996) pays tribute to the muted tones of the bassoon through three particularly agitated movements that are, by the sound of them, demanding for the performers. The frenetic and sustained virtuosity of the lively movements contrasts with the solemnity of the second, where Susie Telsey’s contrabassoon heightens the emotional charge in a passage of intense melodic development. The album concludes with String Quartet No. 1 (2010). Folk influences are felt from the opening of the first movement and then dominate the third movement. The impeccable execution of the Sirius Quartet perfectly captures the contrast between the joyful, frolicsome side of the brisk movements and the gravity of the second. High Voltage Chamber Music proves once again, not without humour, that contemporary music can be both serious and accessible.

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Arnaud G. Veydarier est actuellement étudiant en musicologie à l’Université de Montréal et nourrit un intérêt prononcé pour le jazz, la musique contemporaine et les liens entre musique et développement urbain. Il est pigiste pour La Scena Musicale depuis septembre 2017.

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