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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Jeremy Gill, Capriccio, Parker Quartet

Jeremy Gill's Capriccio (Innova 913) makes use of a very wide world of string quartet techniques in succession, running the gamut from harmonics, open tuning, microtones, glissandi to you-name-it in an ever-shifting stylistic universe touching on a vast spectrum from the ultra-modern to early music and pre-modern, post-modern and polyglotten.

27 miniature movements occupy nearly an hour of performance time as the Parker Quartet negotiates the labyrinthian twists and turns with terrific spirit and impeccable technique. The composer suggests that the work was meant not only for the concert setting, but also as a pedagogical demonstration of the myriad possibilities the string quartet affords technically and sonically. In the hands of the very talented Parker Quartet that certainly makes sense, though as pure music it has such strong episodic qualities that one can safely ignore the technical and gain much from just sitting back and experiencing the flow of vivid ideas.

Like Crumb and Ligeti before him, Gill's writing has a vivid abstractive narrative, evena-mental quality. There is of course no literal program nor need there be one, unless you consider the whirlwind trip through a vast array of approaches a sort of story, which of course in a way it is.

In the end it is a tour de force of brilliant miniature compositions, relating one to another like the infinite variety of snowflakes descending onto earth during the first snow of winter. Like each flake, one segment relates to the others yet is in its own form as a distinct part of it. It is also a wonderful showcase for the Parker Quartet, who excel in producing dramatically pronounced differences and contrasts with a surety of the very best.

By the vivacity of each part and the experience of the ever-shifting whole one is captivated and endlessly stimulated. In the process Jeremy Gill conveys to us his own special sensibilities as a composer of almost unlimited breadth, a master stylist who knows virtually no boundaries in his poetic collocation of past, present and future into an hour of quartet fireworks and fantasia.


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