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Radio ›› Bozzini Quartet
Aldo Clementi: Momento
Reticolo: 4 (1968) [excerpt]
Track 7 from Aldo Clementi: Momento
CD: Collection QB (2016) CQB 1615

Artists ›› Bozzini Quartet

  • Articles about Bozzini Quartet

    Record reviews are found in the pages for each disc (via the discography tab).

    1 January 2017
    By Réjean Beaucage in Voir (Québec), January 1, 2017

    Press Clipping

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    24 May 2016
    By Mike Chamberlain in All About Jazz (USA), May 24, 2016

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    “This was easily the best improvisation by a large Quebec ensemble heard here in many years.”

    The 32nd edition of the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville began with a performance of new compositions by Norwegian guitarist / composer Kim Myhr with Montréal’s Quatour Bozzini in the town’s new cultural space, Carré 150, an impressive $28 million structure that stands on the site of the former Cinema Laurier, one of the performance homes for the festival for many years.

    If we’re looking for themes, the first two days’ concerts featured the human voice and by extension, the notion of breathing and the breath mechanism. Both the Bozzini / Myhr ensemble and the Julie Tippetts / Martin Archer Ensemble that followed included vocalists who incorporated poetry and song into the performances. The music of Bozzini and Myhr, who did two pieces, one by Christian Wolff and the other by Myhr, was spare and slow-moving, but insistent and hypnotic, with Angell reciting the poetry of the British poet Caroline Bergvall. The following performance, the Montréal-based vocalist Erika Tippetts / Archer group was performing live for the first time ever, despite the fact that they have been making music in the studio for a decade and a half. Their music is very much in the prog- rock sphere, with elements of the blues, a big bass sound and electric keyboards underpinning the group sound and providing a strong foundation for Tippetts’ soaring voice. (…)

    The three performances on Friday evening all featured Quebec and Canadian musicians. Electric bassist / composer / educator Eric Normand lives in the small town of Rimouski, Quebec, where he leads a group called GGRIL, comprised mainly of amateur musicians from the Rimouski area. In starting GGRIL a few years ago, Normand has created an enormously important community music project that is reinvigorating the improvised music scene in Quebec. GGRIL were joined at Victo by veteran Montréalers Jean Derome and Joane Hetu and Ensemble SuperMusique, for an improvisation conducted by French guitarist / composer / improviser Olivier Benoit. There was no vocalist; it was the music itself that breathed and vibrated to the rhythm of the breath and beating of the heart. Benoit’s choice of moves for the musicians was impeccable, as the hour-long piece built up slowly to two climaxes, the tension palpable throughout. This was easily the best improvisation by a large Quebec ensemble heard here in many years. (…)

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    23 June 2015
    By Kyle Brenders in Soundstreams (Canada), June 23, 2015

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    Our Artistic Associate Kyle Brenders recently spent a week in Montreal, participating in Quatuor Bozzini's Composer's Kitchen. He wrote a blog post for us about his experience, and how he composes.

    Beyond what I do here at Soundstreams, I attempt to have a life as a practicing composer (and performer, but that’s a story for another blog post). I am constantly searching to find a balance between my own artistic practice, and that which I’m working to put on stage at Soundstreams. Some might say that my work as a creative musician is my second job, because I do it after I get home from Soundstreams. But I sometimes feel that Soundstreams is my second job, there to support my habit as a musician! All kidding aside, I recently participated in an emerging composer workshop—a departure from being the workshop designer, which is part of what I do at Soundstreams.

    I created a new work for string quartet as part of the Quatuor Bozzini's Composer's Kitchen. The Composer's Kitchen is an annual musical “laboratory” conceived as an artistic "playground,” where composers workshop their new composition with direct support from the Quartet, as well as two composer mentors. The Composer’s Kitchen happens in three stages:

    1) A workshop in Montreal and performance of the new work;

    2) A few months of private revisions;

    3) Another workshop in London, UK, and concert of the final works.

    The workshop had four participants that were selected through an application process: two composers from Canada and two from the United Kingdom, supported by the amazing UK organization Sound and Music (you can read about the other participants here). The two mentor composers were Christopher Butterfield from Victoria, BC, and Christopher Fox from London, UK.

    This workshop reminded me of how intense the process of creating a new work really is. In my own compositional practice, I know I’ll be performing much of the music that I write. Because of this, I tend to leave a lot of musical information out of the score. Dynamics, articulation, bar-lines, time signatures, instructions for improvisation, and sometimes even the duration of notes, are aspects of the score that I leave out, and figure out either in real-time during the performance, or through the rehearsal process.

    I wasn’t going to be performing this new work, so I needed to create something clear and precise. However, I don’t believe in creating a score, handing it over, and expecting the piece to be performed directly as it appears on the page. I love openness, which requires the performers to make their own decisions. I love facilitating surprises for the performers as they play the music, and also for me as the composer of the work. This can create complications when working with musicians used to scores that have the composer’s instructions clearly written on the page. I knew this would a challenge going into this workshop, but I also knew that the members of Quatuor Bozzini would be game for anything.

    I had a breakthrough on my piece when another workshop composer mentioned that she views the compositional process as “creating an article of clothing”—composers have to put the pieces of thread together for the performers. I am slightly different in my work—I provide the performers with the buttons and thread, but they have to create the shirt. The materials I provide the performers with create specific musical events, but how each event progresses through time will be determined in each performance. This idea is also where my piece got its name: sewn.

    You can see a section of the score below and listen to how it’s all put together. There is a main set of materials that begin the section, and then each player is free to move through their own musical materials. Each player receives only their subsections, separate from the other four players.

    My music has a quirkiness that I encourage. I recently played with Bobby McFerrin at Roy Thomson Hall, and one thing he stressed was that everyone needs a level of quirkiness in their everyday, and suggested 10%. I think I’m there with this piece. The Quartet really explored the material with curiosity and wit. But remember, this is only one performance, and one way through the material. Each time the Quartet performed my piece, they created a new version. My music isn’t about capturing a final, flawless performance, but capturing the moment the musicians are presently in.

    Another amazing aspect of this workshop was collaborating with the other participants. They each created incredible pieces that inspired me to work harder (you can hear one of them here). Seeing another composer’s music being work-shopped is one of the joys of this process. I love watching how people put music together, hearing them describe what they’re doing, and seeing how the performers respond. It’s this joy of creation that made me first want to make music, and continues to drive me every day. Luckily, this workshop has a second stage, where we all come together again. I’ll write again in February after the third stage of the workshop, which will include a performance of the work in Aberdeen, Scotland.

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    10 June 2015
    By Christina Volpini in Bachtrack, June 10, 2015

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    “The Bozzini Quartet’s care and precision was essential to the execution of the piece; the subtleties of the work were perceptible due to their exact microtonal tuning and synchronous ensemble playing. The quartet confronted the challenges of this music with confidence, their dedication to the work evident in their effort to bring these acoustic phenomena to fruition.”

    As many composers continue on a mad dash to ensnare audiences in a spiral of novel sounds, fantastic visuals and complexity, it is rare to find a composer who is interested solely in investigating the phenomena of sound itself. Musical trends have come and gone over the course of the 20th century, and yet composer Alvin Lucier has continued to produce works focused on a single idea related to sound production and the act of listening. This past Sunday, Montréal hosted Lucier as he, the Bozzini Quartet and other musicians performed his works of the past two decades.

    At the age of 84, Lucier is a pioneer in the field of experimental music in post-war America. He often makes use of the properties of sound, room acoustics and the experience of hearing in his compositions. Of particular interest in this concert was the phenomenon of “sound wave interference”. This occurs when two sound waves which are very close in frequency approach the ear. The two slightly out-of-sync waves interfere with each other, and we hear this as a sort of ‘beating’ - imagine two instruments playing slightly out of tune. Though undesirable in other forms of classical music, Lucier draws our attention to this and other naturally-occurring acoustic phenomena, often with the use of technology.

    Performing pieces of this nature requires painstaking concentration and hard work on the part of the player; pitches must be executed with absolute precision in order to create the desired effects. The first three pieces on the program presented sound wave interference through the context of a soloist in interaction with electronics. The first piece, Wind Shadows, featured trombonist Felix Del Tredici’s careful microtonal playing. Different rates of beating were created as he played long tones in unison with two pure sine oscillators. This was followed by Violynn, in which the Bozzini Quartet’s Clemens Merkel created a similar effect, this time against a series of six sine waves. Cellist Isabelle Bozzini then performed Charles Curtis, carefully executing double stops against long sine waves to form interference. The performers each paid close attention to detail, displaying fine control of their instrument through careful microtonal inflection.

    Lucier himself performed the piece Bird and Person Dyning, in which an electric bird call interacted with feedback between speakers and a binaural microphone. ‘Dyning’ refers to heterodyning, a term from early radio transmission in which the addition and subtraction of two tones creates two new tones. With the performer required to wear the binaural microphone, the frequency of the feedback was dependent on Lucier’s position in the room. The composer moved in the space slowly and deliberately, able to create uncanny effects through even slight changes in the position of his body. At times, this included the strange experience of difference tones that seemed to form and vibrate right within the ear. The effects of space and resonance were also dealt with in the charming piece Nothing is real, in which pianist Daniel Áñez first recorded fragments of the Beatles song Strawberry Fields Forever with a wash of damper pedal, then replayed the fragments on a speaker housed inside a teapot. By raising and lowering both the lid and the teapot itself, Áñez was able to isolate particular partials within the wash of recorded piano.

    The final piece of the evening, Small Waves, brought all of the members of the Bozzini Quartet to the stage as well as Del Tredici and Áñez. In this piece, the performers played long, sustained clusters tuned closely to pitches of the feedback between speakers and six microphones. These microphones were inserted in glass vessels partially filled with water and placed around the space. On occasion, stage hands would pour water between vessels, thereby changing the pitch of the feedback. At 50 minutes in length, this piece was a display of endurance. The Bozzini Quartet’s care and precision was essential to the execution of the piece; the subtleties of the work were perceptible due to their exact microtonal tuning and synchronous ensemble playing. The quartet confronted the challenges of this music with confidence, their dedication to the work evident in their effort to bring these acoustic phenomena to fruition.

    In many ways, Lucier’s music can be just as challenging for the listener as it is for the performers. Little of Western art music as single-minded and static, particularly when compared with the emotional journeys in the tradition of Beethoven, Wagner or Mahler. What Lucier’s music lacks in turbulence and cinematic grandeur it gains in quiet contemplation; rather than an elaborate structure built from many parts, this music is a monolith chiselled from a single block of marble. Lucier’s music forces us to slow down, reminding us of the quiet wonder found within the everyday act of listening.

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    1 March 2014
    By Richard Simas in Musicworks #118 (Canada), March 1, 2014

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    Quatuor Bozzini is poetry, sweat, talent, idealism, determination, love, survival, fate, and a wonderful wild dance with the spirits.”

    Quatuor Bozzini is poetry, sweat, talent, idealism, determination, love, survival, fate, and a wonderful wild dance with the spirits. For fifteen years, the Montreal ensemble has steadfastly explored the notion of what contemporary music means today. The players are irrepressible creators and innovators, whether working in the far lands of experimental sound art, the close weave of musical miniatures, or the collaborative dynamic of multi-arts projects.

    Sitting around a large dining table with cellist Isabelle Bozzini, violist Stéphanie Bozzini, and violinist Clemens Merkel — the family and founding core — one immediately senses the shared pulse and fine-tuning of this intimate creative unit. Violinist Mira Benjamin, who joined in 2011, is filing scores downstairs in the combination archive-office-rehearsal-space of this ever-expanding, contemporary-music cottage industry. Sunlight slashes through a kitchen window, and the table is crowded with notes, scores, portable computers, and glasses of water. We take a breath, wait for the beat, and begin our conversational stroll.

    “Do something you have never done before and never dared to do.” This is a key directive the quartet gives undergraduate composers attending the annual Bozzini Lab at Simon Fraser University, which is organized in collaboration with Owen Underhill and Christopher Butterfield. It could just as easily be the mantra the players recite in the mirror each morning. It also reveals their dedication to cultivating new sources of creative stimulation in a blossoming network of collaborators. Provocation and industry fit together nicely for these new-music explorers. In the lab, Isabelle Bozzini notes, “You have ten people trying different things in a variety of directions.” Crazy exercises and experiments become studies and departure points for future pieces the quartet might play in its annual Composer’s Kitchen, created in 2005 to facilitate a hands-on approach to furthering the development of new string-quartet compositions. The Kitchen is the opposite of the master class, where established values and forms are the models; it is a space where, as British composer and 2013 Kitchen participant Seán Clancy observed, in an email to the quartet, “There is no such thing as a silly idea.”

    A determination to work outside the box and pursue a radical agenda is only part of what powers the players. Merkel is adamant about the inseparability of music and daily life. “Our radicalness is our position in a social context,” he says. “I am trying to shape the milieu and society around us by questioning all aspects of my music, not just accepting that things are a certain way and you just have to sell your concert and play. Playing music for me is about shaping my society.” This attitude expresses the very essence of how the music Merkel plays sounds to the listener. In an article discussing the history of the string quartet and its parallels with social evolution, published in the University of Montreal journal Circuit, Merkel notes that after 250 years little has changed in string quartets, unlike other musical formations and society in general. Collectively, the players focus on influencing the traditional model.

    Radical or not, this level of engagement permeates everything the quartet does, and is another cog in the mechanics of its success. The members share rehearsal leadership roles and work collectively on programs and on developing ideas. Aesthetics and musical interpretation are discussed freely. They support, critique, and explore together, and this creates the quartet’s unique sound. “We have invested a lot in a certain sound and approach,” Isabelle Bozzini explains. “We are looking for a direct, raw quality affecting the music’s flow and intentions.” Some of this sensibility comes from the influence of Bozzini’s work in early music — for example, basso continuo playing.

    Stéphanie Bozzini calls the quartet’s aesthetic “an uncompromising approach to sound — a hit-or-miss situation.” The focus is always on the music, on making sound, and never on the romantic notion of the virtuoso musician. No one bows to the first violinist in this quartet. For Merkel, letting go of this custom has conscious social implications, and is one example of how daily life and music fuse.

    “We can’t fit everywhere… only in very particular places,” explains Isabelle Bozzini. “There is no flexibility in our engagement with the flow of the music.” This is evident the moment you see the quartet on stage.

    Dim blue sidelights fade up and four string players appear in ghost-like disguises: powdered faces, barefoot, rumpled clothes, dishevelled hair, and skin marked with cuts, bruises, and dirt. The centres of their hollow eyes are glassy white, as if their eyeballs had flipped backwards to see within. This was the scene that opened the theatrical version of George Crumb’s 2011 work Black Angels, just one of the quartet’s plunges into the kind of cross-genre experimentation so prevalent in Montreal’s contemporary arts scene. Une idée sinon vraie, which had its world première in 2012, was created by dancer-choreographer Marc Boivin in collaboration with composer Ana Sokolović and the quartet. In various scenes from these two hybrid creations, the violist is carried across stage by a dancer, violins are played upside down, and the cellist is carted around on a mobile platform. The music remains intense, precise, evocative, and imperatively immediate.

    The quartet has also been exploring sound and image through several video — music projects. In Les petites portes (2011), a series of short films exploring the interaction between music and video projection, twenty-four tiny doors open like an Advent calendar to reveal playful sound and visual worlds. In 2014, the ensemble plans to create a “tri-alogue” in collaboration with video artist Nathalie Bujold and Canadian composer and Kitchen participant Taylor Wood, deriving sound from images and vice versa.

    Make yourself available as a human being. Idealism paired with a do-it-yourself approach make Quatuor Bozzini both contemporary and traditional. The players ask, “What do we need now?” and then search for answers. The array of seasonal, recurring workshop projects for which they are recognized bears witness to this process: the Composer’s Kitchen, the Bozzini Lab, and the new Performer’s Kitchen (launched December 2013).

    Ever since it began, the Composer’s Kitchen has attracted international attention, and it recently spawned a three-year collaboration with the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. Mentors Michael Oesterle from Montreal and Laurence Crane from London are coleading the 2013-14 Kitchen. In Crane’s humorous daily “menus,” contemporary composers were introduced as chefs: Philip Glass prepares melon sorbet served with fluted hazelnut Twizzles; Sir Harrison Birtwistle, a boiled egg. But what happens in the kitchen day-to-day is even bolder. “There is no head-chef-sous-chef relationship. We are all explorers working towards the same end result, to create the best possible music we can create,” Séan Clancy asserts. “As composers we can continually ask, ‘Can I borrow a shirt?’ and the quartet will always reply, ‘Yes.’ ”

    “We don’t know what will happen or how it will work, but we are inviting musicians into our world,” Merkel says of the ensemble’s newest Kitchen, which shifts the focus to performance, shaking up the string quartet formation and encouraging young musicians to take risks. Montreal guitarist Marc Olivier Lamontagne participated in the first edition, which involved two weeks of exploratory workshops that included improvisation and sound exploration beyond scored notation, followed by a series of performances at La Sala Rossa.

    Whether you call the quartet’s development model “sustainable,” “organic,” or “cottage industry,” it holds few mysteries. Philosophical musings on how to keep a contemporary string quartet vital are coupled with conscious planning and incessant labour. Everything ticks, thanks to rigorous discipline, dedication, endurance, flexibility, vision, and talent. Now entering its fifteenth anniversary year, the quartet exhibits the maturity of a singular identity.

    Montreal composer Nicole Lizée, winner of the 2014 Jules Léger prize, is composing a new work for the quartet. She told me the ensemble “brings a commitment to depth and transcendence that goes beyond the ‘notes on the page.’ To work with them is to engage with a cohesive, passionate, and adventurous entity that is greater than the sum of its considerable parts.”

    All rooms connect in the Bozzini musical home. Music simmers in the kitchen and lab. The 2013-14 season of their annual curated Montreal concert series, Salon, included new work by some of Quebec’s most talented young composers: for starters, Simon Martin’s homage to painter Jean-Paul Riopelle Icebergs et soleil de minuit — quatuor en blanc, and the première of a new quartet by Maxime McKinley.

    Critical commentary and recognition for the ensemble accumulates, but this is secondary to the day’s rehearsal, renovating new office and rehearsal space on the second floor of their building, or waiting for confirmation of a tour of Japan and Korea in the autumn of 2014. Still, the modernist caveat of “make it new” continually inspires their efforts. A conservative tradition in performance doesn’t question things, Merkel says; it’s as if “the truth comes from higher up.” Perhaps for Quatuor Bozzini the truth comes from inside the circle rather than elsewhere. Merkel’s intention is for the music to flourish creatively, by taking the liberty and responsibility of consciously opposing some common- sense notions. “In some ways it is old-fashioned… the power and audacity to take decisions on your own, instead of just repeating what other people have told you.” It seems ironic and noteworthy that inspiration for renewal is so often found in the past.

    Our conversation is suspended but not finished. They must break and rehearse for the Huddersfield Festival soon. Someone is sanding a wall downstairs, and the sound of renovation hastens the end of our conversation. This discussion of their work triggers waves of musical references, names, texts, and images, plus a flood of forwarded documents, links, recordings, and videos. The November sunlight has softened and shifted through the house. Everyone bustles off to tasks that must be done before rehearsal: phone calls, emails, scores to verify. The intricate human machine clicks forward. Soon, in the downstairs practice space, Quatuor Bozzini will tune, discuss the day’s practice, open scores, and shape, explore, and play.

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    23 March 2013
    By Hélène Roulot-Ganzmann in Le Devoir (Québec), March 23, 2013

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    “… et se lancent dans la musique nouvelle, contemporaine, expérimentale.”

    Une belle reconnaissance pour la musique nouvelle, contemporaine et expérimentale que fut la mise en nomination du Quatuor Bozzini.

    Parmi tous les finalistes de ce 28e Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal, le Quatuor Bozzini fait sans doute figure de Petit Poucet. Moins connu du grand public, moins visible dans les médias… Il faut dire qu’il évolue dans un domaine, la musique contemporaine, qui reste une niche dans le paysage artistique.

    Presque quinze ans que le Quatuor Bozzini promène ses archets tout autour de la planète… L’aventure commence au tournant de l’an 2000. Les deux soeurs Bozzini, formées à la musique classique, baroque, romantique, s’entourent finalement de deux acolytes et se lancent dans la musique nouvelle, contemporaine, expérimentale.

    «Jeune, j’allais voir quelques concerts contemporains, raconte la violoncelliste Isabelle Bozzini, mais je l’ai surtout découverte lors de ma maîtrise à l’Université de Montréal. Parce que je voulais connaître la musique de mon époque. Finalement, je me rends compte que c’est comme une seconde nature. C’est un véritable défi parce qu’il y a toute une tradition à créer, des liens à tisser entre les créateurs et les interprètes. Un défi parce qu’il y a toute une éducation à faire, un travail de missionnaire à mener, démystifier, tenter de convaincre que la musique contemporaine n’est pas plus difficile qu’une autre à appréhender, qu’elle n’est pas plus cérébrale, pas plus désagréable… Il y a eu beaucoup de désinformation autour de la musique contemporaine, on a dit que John Cage était un fumiste… Et pourtant, les gens en écoutent très souvent sans le savoir, via la musique de film, par exemple…»

    Concerts et créations

    Depuis ses débuts, le Quatuor Bozzini a présenté 416 concerts à Montréal, au Canada et partout ailleurs dans le monde. Il a enregistré près de 20 disques, certains sous sa propre étiquette, a effectué une trentaine de tournées, visité plusieurs festivals internationaux prestigieux et obtenu de nombreux prix.

    Près de 200 nouvelles œuvres ont été écrites pour lui par les plus grands compositeurs du moment. Partout où il se produit, on le loue pour sa virtuosité et son audace exceptionnelles, certains journalistes étrangers le voyant même comme l’un des tout meilleurs quatuors de musique nouvelle. Mais, s’il donne des récitals parfaitement interprétés, il se démarque également par son originalité, chacune de ses représentations ne ressemblant jamais exactement à la précédente, et par son désir d’abattre les frontières entre les disciplinaires.

    Il n’est pas rare qu’il travaille avec des artistes issus d’autres disciplines et qu’il intègre ainsi de la vidéo, de la danse ou du théâtre dans ses créations. «On est un peu fou, je l’admets, avoue Isabelle Bozzini. On aime se mettre en danger. Le quatuor à cordes permet ça. Je ne me voyais pas être soliste, je ne me voyais pas non plus être une parmi tant d’autres à l’intérieur d’un orchestre symphonique. Le quatuor est très exigeant, il nous oblige à prendre nos propres décisions musicales et autres. Violon, alto, violoncelle, c’est presque le même instrument, si l’un d’entre nous n’est pas totalement juste, c’est affreux… Mais quand on est tous dedans, c’est fabuleux!»

    Qualités indéniables

    Si les qualités artistiques des quatre membres du quatuor sont indéniables, leurs qualités humaines le sont également. Depuis 2004, ils produisent un atelier original de formation professionnelle, le Composer’s Kitchen, afin de mettre en relation les compositeurs reconnus et ceux de la relève, mais également les compositeurs et les interprètes. Classes de maître, résidences et performances… Depuis 10 ans, près de cinquante jeunes compositeurs ont pris part à cet atelier de recherche et développement implanté à Montréal, mais aujourd’hui également présent à Vancouver et au Royaume-Uni.

    Un quatuor dévoué pour sa ville et sa collectivité, un quatuor qui accueille cette nomination au Grand Prix comme une véritable surprise et une occasion de se faire mieux connaître dans sa propre ville. Une occasion de visibilité également pour toute la scène montréalaise qui gravite autour des musiques nouvelles…

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    10 May 2012
    By Kate Molleson in Gramophone (UK), May 10, 2012

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    “Take the Bozzini Quartet, add six young composers, season with two mentors and stir it all together in Montréal for a tantalising menu of contemporary music-making.”

    Take the Bozzini Quartet, add six young composers, season with two mentors and stir it all together in Montréal for a tantalising menu of contemporary music-making.

    The premise is simple enough: six young composers spend two weeks in April bouncing ideas off each other, a couple of mentors and a string quartet, first in Montréal, then in Yorkshire. The end goal is a showcase at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in November. Other groups run other similarly intensive composition workshops, so what makes the Composer’s Kitchen particularly worth writing about?

    Probably it’s the ethos of the thing. Billed as ‘a combination of laboratory, playground and masterclass’, the project is hosted annually by one of Montréal’s more industrious and open-minded new music ensembles, the Bozzini Quartet. They’re clearly skilled adjudicators, too, because the six composers (two Brits, four Canadians) selected from 60-odd applicants turned out to be an unusually down-to-earth, musically diverse and genial bunch.

    A few days into the Montréal week, composer and CK mentor Christopher Fox confided his epiphany to this effect: ‘I used to teach at Darmstadt’s summer school where students would soon enough kill each other if it meant they’d win the final prize,’ he said. ’Here there’s no hint of competition. Everyone’s piece gets showcased in the final concert, and because they’re all coming from different musical backgrounds they seem happy to pitch in with constructive feedback on each other’s work. Actually, they all seem to genuinely like each other. Bloody brilliant.’ For his part, Fox’s ‘mentoring’ looked a hoot; more reciprocal enthusiasm than teacher-to-student pronouncement.

    Some of the composers turned up with pieces that were nearly finished and mostly needed logistical help tweaking details of notation to make the parts playable. Thierry Tidrow brought a score of dense and convoluted microtones that took the Bozzinis — some of the best sight-readers in the business — dozens of attempts to navigate. They patiently explained the pros and cons of various common symbols, while Fox’s fellow mentor Malcolm Goldstein, veteran improviser of the New York avant-garde, just shook his head. ‘Ultimately the composer’s responsibility is to communicate his intentions with absolute clarity,’ he sighed, and pulled out a pile of Morton Feldman scores to demonstrate.

    Other participants arrived with nothing more than words and the genesis of an idea, and it was these who stirred up the real depths of debate as the week went on. What’s the point of writing down music? Where does a composer’s obligation end? What potential can be drawn from raw open strings and the harmonics of subtle tuning? John Lely produced a single sheet of spare four-part chords, which the group tugged apart for hours. Lovely stuff.

    Composers, mentors and Bozzinis members now have six months to gestate before reuniting for Part II. Huddersfield’s director Graham McKenzie cites the Composer’s Kitchen as a prime example of how the festival should invest in incubating new work. I’m looking forward to the final results in November.

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    1 April 2012
    By Scott McLaughlin in hcmf// (UK), April 1, 2012

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    “Such a problem (and its various solutions) only arises from the experience of working through the piece, for which the Kitchen is an invaluable project.”

    As part of hcmf//’s exchange with Quatuor Bozzini’s Composer’s Kitchen, myself and five other composers spent a week in Montréal working with the quartet, along with mentors Christopher Fox and Malcolm Goldstein.

    Myself and John Lely arrived in Montréal a few days early to see the quartet play in their salon series, a fascinating concert for string quartet and gamelan, and another with the Bozzini’s alone playing a piece by previous Kitchen participant Richard Glover and a hcmf//2011 commission by James Weeks, as well as new pieces by our two mentors, all beautifully performed. It was especially interesting to hear Malcolm’s work as it was completely new to me at the time, and shared many concerns with my own work — but this was also the tone for the week, every piece seemed to connect in some way with what I was doing, this new piece I was writing flows out of my way of musicking but was also developing from the environment of the Kitchen, soaking up ideas and connections.

    The Composers Kitchen began on Sunday for introductions and a run through of the initial sketches. Each composer approached the Kitchen in their own way. Some arrived with pieces that were almost completely written, and across the week the players drew out an infinity of nuance and detail, prompting plenty of useful discussion as the works are questioned and refined. Some arrived with only an idea, a few scraps of notation, directions, constraints, techniques, etc., and the players responded with a wonderful willingness to experiment, fully engaged with the exploration.

    Myself, I arrived in Montréal with no score but some materials and text directions, a fuzzy expression of a clear idea with two things that I wished to explore. The main idea was the inherent non-linearity of sound production in strings when played very close to the bridge. Here the harmonics can be unpredictable and change with the slightest variation in bowing, requiring a virtuosity of touch that I’ve seen the Bozzini’s bring to performances of Jurg Frey and others. The other idea was to center the interaction of the players as much as possible on listening. To construct a score in the tradition of Christian Wolff and others where the players are cueing each other through sound, or making decisions based on what they can hear from the group as a whole. In practice, this last element proved most awkward and needed to be rethought as the week went on. When all the quartet are playing high slow harmonics with no sharp attacks, it is almost impossible to know who is playing what. While I was certainly after a high level of blending (a single sound across the quartet) I hadn’t anticipated that it could also undermine the interaction of the players. Such a problem (and its various solutions) only arises from the experience of working through the piece, for which the Kitchen is an invaluable project.

    We all work each day from 9-5, composers meeting in pairs or groups with mentors and performers. Variations are tried, notations are queried, revised, and tried again, material is moved around, replaced, re-examined and reinforced. In the evenings there is always excellent food and drinks, especially at Casa Del Popolo.

    During the week we alternate sessions with mentors with group rehearsals, and each morning begins with a listening session with works drawn from the quartet’s repertoire. As the week goes on there’s a shift from experimentation to consolidation, in preparation for the closing concert. The quartet explained at the start that none of us should feel obliged to have a piece ready for the end of the week, but no-one declined the offer of a concert rendition; I at least want an opportunity to hear the piece in a public performance context, to see how the ideas hold up. In the end, for my piece we settled on a single idea, only the players’ right-hand would be used, coaxing out the natural harmonics of the strings using only the bow, varying its speed, pressure, and position on the string. A rough structure and score is drawn up for the concert, and results in performance exceed my expectations, but still the piece is not complete, more work needs to be done on the structure and the interaction, but the technique at least is solid.

    In November 2012 we all meet again in Huddersfield to rehearse and finalise the pieces for performance at hcmf//.

    blogue@press-4784 press@4784
    14 May 2010
    By Horst Hollmann in Nordwest-Zeitung (Germany), May 14, 2010

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    1 April 2010
    By Myriam Bonfils in La Scena Musicale #3:3 (Québec), April 1, 2010

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    1 July 2009
    By Bob Gilmore in Thirty-One (Netherlands), July 1, 2009

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    “… one of the finest new music quartets on the scene, skilful and dedicated young players with a consistently adventurous approach to repertoire.”

    Let’s get the “review” out of the way first, so we can talk about the music. This two-CD set of quartets and quintets by the American composer James Tenney (1934-2006) is one of the finest recordings to have come my way recently, essential listening not only for anyone interested in Tenney’s music or in microtonality in general, but for anyone wanting to understand some of the ways in which new music has developed in the past three or four decades. That’s a weighty claim but I stand by it. Relatively little played for much of his lifetime, Tenney’s music became better known only in the last dozen years of his life and now the ears of the new music world are wide open to it. With this new recording we have a Tenney release that offers superb performances of a collection of some of his finest, most individual works (here represented by Quintext, Saxony, and Koan) together with some tougher nuts that nonetheless prove tastier as time goes by (works like Cognate Canons, Diaphonic Study, and his last work, the string quartet Arbor Vitae). Previous fine Tenney discs have appeared (Marc Sabat and Stephen Clarke’s recording of the violin and piano music on Hat Hut, the Barton Workshop’s of the Postal Pieces on New World Records, among others), but for all the excellence of the playing these earlier discs have often tended to offer works from what feels to me like the periphery of Tenney’s achievement rather than the centre. If you don’t like the music on this Bozzini Quartet release, you can conclude that Tenney is just not for you. The Montréal-based Bozzinis have established themselves beyond question as one of the finest new music quartets on the scene, skilful and dedicated young players with a consistently adventurous approach to repertoire. Their performances here are never less than outstanding.

    Tenney’s explorations of microtonal tunings began in 1972, more than a decade after his brief and argument-filled “apprenticeship” with Harry Partch at the University of Illinois in 1959. Tenney’s theoretical writings offer an expansion of many of Partch’s tuning concepts, placing Partch’s interest in extended just intonation (“extended” through the use of harmonies derived from the seventh and eleventh partials) in a broader conceptual framework that acknowledges the complexities of our perception of pitch and the sophisticated mechanisms our brain uses to process aural data. Not all of Tenney’s post-1972 works employ just tuning, although most of them use harmonic relationships made possible by the expanded pitch world of microtonality — more specifically, through a particular navigation of that world by means of a pitch matrix that Tenney termed “harmonic space”, which offers quantitative measures of “harmonic distance” between two or more pitches. These theoretical ideas, brought to sonorous life in his compositions, are described in his article “John Cage and the theory of harmony” — Soundings 13: The Music of James Tenney, ed. Peter Garland, pp. 55—83 (Santa Fe, NM: Soundings Press, 1984).

    At the conceptually simpler end of Tenney’s spectrum is a work like Saxony (1978) , originally for saxophone with tape delay but heard here in one of its various possible incarnations, for string quartet with delay. This piece, like several others laced through his output, takes its pitch material from a single harmonic series. The series is revealed gradually, in an ever­more-dense texture, with the delay system catching the long tones and phrases of the players and re-injecting them into the texture. Characteristically for Tenney, this music avoids drama or incident (more so than does much of the contemporaneous “spectral music” from France, with which it otherwise has several things in common) and offers instead a rich listening context in which the listener’s perceptual experience seems to count for more than the decoding of any “message” from the composer. Koan, a 1984 reworking for string quartet of a much earlier solo violin piece, is a twenty-minute exercise in slowly moving string glissandi set against steady drone pitches. Conceptually elegant and perceptually engaging — if one is in the mood for it — the work can be a real challenge for many audiences not sympathetic to its particular sort of austerity. The Bozzinis play it superbly (with special praise due to violinist Clemens Merkel, who has to negotiate slow glissandi evenly and musically over long spans of time in a steady eighth-note rhythm continually crossing two strings).

    For me the real gem of this set, and practically a textbook of Tenney techniques, is the 35­minute Quintext, never before recorded (and rarely, if ever, played complete). Subtitled “five textures for string quartet and bass”, this dates from the all-important year 1972. The individual movements are: “Some Recent Thoughts for Morton Feldman”, “Clouds for Iannis Xenakis”, “A Choir of Angels for Carl Ruggles”, “Parabolas and Hyperbolas for Edgard Varèse” and “Spectra for Harry Partch”. As the subtitle indicates, each movement creates and sustains a texture without dramatic change of any kind, and each has a connection to the work of the composer invoked in its title — although Tenney’s homage could never actually be mistaken for the music of the composer concerned. The first movement is a study in soft, sustained, non-developmental, dissonant vertical harmonies, an obsession in much of Feldman’s early work (especially, perhaps, the Vertical Thoughts series, from which Tenney derived his title). However, in “Some recent Thoughts for Morton Feldman”, the harmonies specified are microtonal, and tuned just intonation (using a scale of intervals analogous to the first 13 odd-number harmonics), one of Tenney’s own obsessions, but a concept totally at odds with Feldman’s devotion to equal temperament. The second movement is a tapestry of sound and silence, with the ‘sound’ sections being a homage to the string cluster textures of Xenakis’s Metastasis and other works, albeit randomly derived. The third movement is a sort of textural parody of Ruggles’s Angels, this time involving actual quotations of chords from Ruggles’s score, though once again in just intonation; it is played sul ponticello throughout, invoking the muted brass of the original. The fourth movement, with its continual but irregular glissandi finally converging around middle C, evokes the parabolas and hyperbolas that Varèse wanted to create in sound by use of instruments like the siren; again, however, the movement is technically speaking almost antithetical to Varèse’s own compositional methods, with its use of graphic notation and consequent degree of randomness. Finally, “Spectra for Harry Partch” proposes yet another sort of homage. In terms of its sonority and its compositional approach the piece is quite far from the sound of Partch’s music, yet the complex scordatura that Tenney specifies for the strings yields music that uses the most complex fabric of just intervals he had so far employed (surpassing in complexity, thanks to its use of intervals derived from prime number partials as high as the thirteenth, the harmonic resources of Partch’s own musical language).

    The two other quintets on this disc are much later works. Cognate Canons (1993), which adds a percussionist to the quartet, is dedicated to Nancarrow, some of whose rhythmic techniques it employs. (Among his many other achievements Tenney was among the first to study the music of the long-neglected Nancarrow, contributing detailed liner notes to the recording of Nancarrow’s Studies for Player Piano released by Wergo in the late 1980s.) Tenney gave me a cassette of Cognate Canons shortly after its premiere (by the Arditti Quartet and Robyn Schulkowsky), but it has taken me all these years to warm to it — here the persuasive playing of the Bozzinis and the sympathetic sound of the recording (by Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt) do much to help a work whose material at first can seem rather anonymous and even stilted, its rhythms well calculated but not especially vibrant. The piano quintet Diaphonic Study is a thorny (and perhaps overly prolonged) exercise in dissonant counterpoint of the sort explored by Ruth Crawford and her husband Charles Seeger earlier in the 20th century, here recast in a microtonal tuning system. This work seems, at least initially, to resist straightforward aural comprehension in the way that Saxony or Koan positively revel in it, although for those listeners prepared to invest the necessary time Diaphonic Study offers its own particular rewards.

    The set also offers two early, short quartets — the String Quartet in One Movement of 1955 (a student piece; interesting, but to my ears not really more), and the Stochastic String Quartet of 1963, one of Tenney’s (and the world’s) first computer-generated compositions. While perhaps not especially engaging as a listening experience, the Stochastic String Quartet is representative of a way of working by means of which Tenney creates a field of musical experience mid-way between the architectural calculations of Xenakis and the intention-free indeterminacy of Cage. His last work, the string quartet Arbor Vitae, like the Stochastic String Quartet of more than forty years earlier, is also algorithmically derived, its expanding/contracting pitch range and increasing/decreasing temporal density having been worked out with the programming skills of the young composer Michael Winter during Tenney’s last illness in the summer of 2006. It’s a piece I found hard to make much sense of at first but, here again, repeated listenings reveal a world of sonic fascination and ever-more­audible structure. The Bozzinis commissioned Arbor Vitae, and their stunning recording of it and the seven other works on these discs is a monumental achievement, a fitting testimony to a composer whose real stature is becoming clearer with every year that passes.

    blogue@press-4514 press@4514
    27 December 2008
    By Claude Gingras in La Presse (Québec), December 27, 2008

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    7 December 2008
    By Guy Dammann in The Observer (UK), December 7, 2008

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    “… enterprising and gifted…”

    “The British may not understand music but they absolutely love the sound it makes.” So quipped Thomas Beecham, and he certainly put his finger on something. For while the conductor and one-time pillar of the British musical establishment was no friend of the musical avant-garde, one of its guiding principles has none the less been to liberate the sound music makes from the various kinds of ’understandings’ with which it has been reined in.

    It should be no surprise, on Beecham’s account, to find that the British play host to one of the best-loved avant-garde music festivals, where musicians from all over the world come each November to witness the latest fruits of musical experimentation in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. That said, with the festival reaching its 30th anniversary, this year’s event had a distinctly retrospective flavour to it, with the closing event consisting of a modified recreation of a John Cage concert organised in 1958 by the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

    The original concert was a riot, the musicians protesting as loudly as the audience against the minute unpredictability of the Concert for Piano and Orchestra, an hour-long work in which the pianist struggles through 60 pages containing 84 different kinds of notation. The Huddersfield recreation, masterfully handled by Philip Thomas and the Apartment House group, was an altogether tamer affair, a reminder that much of Cage’s output is, while still fresh, classic primarily in the documentary sense of that term.

    The first part of the concert, though, revealed Cage at his lasting best — in particular the Webernesque miniatures of 1934’s Six Short Inventions and 1943’s muted She is Asleep — and the second part departed from the original by presenting six new compositions. Witty tributes from Alvin Curran and Philip Corner framed offerings from younger composers — short pieces by Markus Trunk and Claudia Molitor confirming that Cage’s musical influence remains a powerful force.

    Stockhausen was also well served during the festival, particularly by the mesmerising talents of the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, who performed his 1968 work Stimmung. Performers of Stockhausen must be accomplished acolytes as well as musicians, and witnessing the weird sounds and occult antics required by ’the master’ in performance can yield the impression of a musical L Ron Hubbard, perpetrator of an inconceivably vast aesthetic con trick. Stimmung consists of six voices passing around intricately worked-through motifs, interrupted by occasional ejaculations spoken in various languages. “C’est complètement nul!” one of them shouts, some way in, seemingly inviting the obvious affirmative response. But in fact the piece both anticipates and quickly absorbs any attentive audience’s responses, literally ’reattuning’ them to their environment.

    The great discovery of the festival for me was James Tenney, a theorist and composer who worked with both Stockhausen and Cage. Before he died in 2006, Tenney amassed a significant and still relatively untapped body of extremely concentrated work, unfolded in a series of three concerts by the enterprising and gifted Canadian string quartet Quatuor Bozzini. Though diverse in terms of the techniques employed and soundworlds explored, Tenney’s œuvre is unified by its single-minded investigation of the listening experience. Especially memorable was Koan, a work in which five melodic lines move steadily towards and away from each other by microtonal degrees. There’s nothing to ’get’, no complex puzzle to solve, simply blissful sounds sliding into and out of existence, like patches of forest floor illuminated fleetingly by the sun’s slow arc above the canopy.

    Two further highlights included the Piano Baschet, a visually and aurally arresting exploded piano mechanism fitted with pyramidal cones which catch the eye as well as sustain and alter the vibrations of the instrument. Of three newly composed works for the object, reconstructed by Pierre Malbos, only Pierre Alexandre Tremblay’s imaginative evocation of the casting of bells seemed to make full use of the instrument’s oddly restricted sonic capabilities. Another was Dutch composer Peter Adriaansz’s Prana, which uses electric-magnetic bows to turn a piano and three guitars into powerful sustaining instruments, generating slow-moving progressions, rich in overtones, to unfold a minutely constructed eternity.

    Fundamentally static, devoid of the grand emotions associated with the classical repertoire, such music prompts many to ask what the point of it is. After a concert of Tenney and Stockhausen, when you emerge into the dull, cacophonous roar of the city, you may find that it suddenly yields a gentle, secret harmony. At this point, though your question may remain unanswered, you’ll certainly have forgotten why you asked it.

    blogue@press-6507 press@6507
    1 September 2008
    By Lawrence Joseph in Signal to Noise #51 (USA), September 1, 2008

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    The eighth annual Suoni per il Popolo spanned a month and covered a huge range of musical genres. Over 50 concerts took place in two venues located across the street from each other in Montréal’s artist-filled Mile End neighborhood. It gave fans of free jazz, experimental rock, avant folk, contemporary classical, electronic, and improvised musics plenty to get excited about. Add a workshop with the Sun Ra Arkestra, street performance art, DJ sets and an outdoor day of music and children’s activities, and you have an unbeatably eclectic event. […]

    The festival kicked off with two shows that exemplified what it does best. The more intimate Casa del Popolo was the venue for a free jazz blowout with saxophonist Glen Hall, bassist Dominic Duval, and drummer William Hooker, […] Hall keeps a relatively low profile, despite having studied with Ligeti and Kagel and played with the likes of Roswell Rudd, Jimmy Giuffre and John Scofield. The compositions in the first set paid tribute to some of his influences, while the second set shifted to freely improvised territory, with Montréal’s young trumpet luminary Gordon Allen sitting in to add blistering sound blasts and overblowing to the mix. At times this resembled the more noise-based music Hooker has made with Thurston Moore. […]

    Allen was a fixture at the festival, playing in seven shows during the month, including guitarist Rainer Wiens’ version of Riley’s In C.

    Another evening featured the debut of All Up In There, a trio of Allen, Michel F Côté on percussion, and Frank Martel on Theremin. Martel often played the theremin as if it were a stand-up bass, while Côté, when not playing kit, obtained a surprising variety of sounds from winging two mics around Pignose amps. The overall effect was more like a group of virtuosic Martians than a standard jazz trio. […]

    Christof Migone’s performance piece Hit Parade took place outside on a busy Saint-Laurent Boulevard, taking over the sidewalk and one lane of traffic. Eleven people lay face down on the pavement, each pounding a microphone into the ground exactly one thousand times, at varying speeds. The sound of a giant asynchronous metronome prompted ironic thoughts in this listener about the usual meaning of the phrase “hit music,” and about pounding the pavement as a metaphor for life. […]

    The Quatuor Bozzini, a string quartet dedicated to contemporary music, performed a selection of pieces by experienced improviser/composers. Malcolm Goldstein’s four-part structured improvisation A New Song of Many Faces for in These Times (2002) was by turns gentle and harsh, agitated and introspective, as melodic and rhythmic fragments were passed from one member of the quartet to another. Goldstein himself performed Hardscrabble Songs, a 13-minute solo piece for voice and violin. Jean Derome and Joane Hétu’s Le mensonge et l’identité (“Lies and Identity”) is an hour-long tour de force with a strong socio-political component. The Bozzinis’ spoken contributions (both live and on prerecorded tape) ranged from pithy quotes from philosophers and politicians to personal anecdotes. The music deliberately unraveled into chaos, the players moving music stands and chairs about the room in response to unsynchronized metronomes, tipping over stands as the scores on them were completed. […]

    blogue@press-3629 press@3629
    3 June 2008
    By Mathieu Bélanger in Panpot (Québec), June 3, 2008

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    “… a remarkably distinct evening of music.”

    So you missed this double effort, you say? Contributor Mathieu Bélanger provides a full rundown from a remarkably distinct evening of music.

    On June 3rd, the Quatuor Bozzini with special guest Malcolm Goldstein performed at La Sala Rossa as part of the 8th edition of the Suoni Per Il Popolo. The concert happened in two parts. The first part featured two compositions of Malcolm Goldstein. The evening began with A New Song of Many Faces for in These Times, a string quartet the Quatuor Bozzini commissioned in 2002. Goldstein himself then played his Hardscrabble Songs. The second part saw the Quatuor Bozzini perform the North-American premiere of Jean Derome and Joane Hétu’s Le Mensonge et l’identité.

    Malcolm Goldstein’s musical practice could be described as two-folded. The first aspect of his work relates to improvised music, that is music where no decisions are taken in advance in order to leave the sound follows its own path. The second aspect would encompass composition and scored pieces. Yet, such a distinction would be too simple for it would overlook one crucial fact: composition and improvisation, as a sound production method, are indissociable in Goldstein’s pieces. Indeed, these are structured improvisations. Here, a structured improvisation would be best-described as a piece whose overall structure is fixed through a score and is hence composed, but whose actual sound material is up to the musician and produced through improvisation.

    Based on the above considerations, A New Song of Many Faces for in These Times is genuine Goldstein. As stated in the program notes, this string quartet comprises four sections (I. a gently flowing song; II. a brutal song; III. an agitated song; IV. a song of inner vision) and a coda. The score specifies the global development of the piece in addition to the sound signature of each section, but the specific sounds are left for the musicians to decide within the prescribed frame. The sections suggest various melodic lines and, through their sound signature, show them in different colors in accordance with their respective titles. Pizzicato notes and strong attacks and bow pressure give its brutality to the second section while the extensive use of sustained tones, muted strings and harmonics give a contemplative color to the fourth one. The coda, which amounts to about a quarter of the 19-minute piece, is a long rendition of a melody to which other segments taken from Ives and Beethoven — according to the program notes again as one can’t really identified them — are incorporated.

    As a composition, Hardscrabble Songs is a series of four songs, each evoking aspects of the history and politics of the United States since the 1940s. It is of course no coincidence that the covered time frame goes from Goldstein’s youth up to now. Moreover, the word “song” is appropriate since they feature extensive lyrics and melodies although most of them are fractured and deconstructed through Goldstein’s unique style. For example, the first and last songs respectively reference Frank Sinatra’s The House I Live In (That’s America to Me) as well as The Star Spangled Banner and Jimi Hendrix. Interestingly, this particular interpretation of the Hardscrabble Songs put forward the words as they were pronounced with greater clarity than in previous times. In conjunction with the large space that is La Sala Rossa, it contributed to make Hardscrabble Songs softer.

    Le Mensonge et l’identité, a 60-minute composition for string quartet and tape by Jean Derome and Joane Hétu, was premiered last April as part of the Forum Neuer Musik in Köln and was a commission of the Quautuor Bozzini and the Deutschlandfunk (that’s a radio by the way). As mentioned above, the Suoni Per Il Popolo marked its North-American premiere.

    Le Mensonge et l’identité clearly puts forward a reflection on the notion of identity. This reflection happens on two levels — the identity of the individuals and that of the entity — and participates both to the form of the piece and to its musical content.

    On the formal side, the composition is in three parts, each representing a step in the unraveling of the string quartet. In the first part, the music is strictly notated and the quartet plays a single entity, that is according to its traditional conception. The second part marks a certain departure from this unity while the third part irremediably breaks the string quartet as an entity into four singular entities: two violinists, a violist and a cellist. At this point, the musicians are no longer performing a common score through individual parts. Actually, they are no longer playing a part, but are simply playing individually. Not only could they choose to go to one of the 20 or so lecterns placed on the floor, but each presented them with a score made up of general indications. An improvisational component thus entered the picture.

    This unraveling reflects itself in the scenic organization. In the first part, the musicians played side by side, faithfully to the traditional configuration of a string quartet. In opposition, during the third part, the four individuals were moving around on the “scene” — which was the floor of La Sala Rossa for the occasion — carrying lecterns from one point to the other, sometimes turning their back to the audience, etc.

    On the content side, the individuality of the musicians is emphasized. On the tape, each introduced himself, both as a person and as a member of the Quatuor Bozzini. This statement included biographical information such a name, date and place of birth, civil status, ownership of domestic animals — Nadia Francavilla has two cats for example — reasons for playing in a string quartet, administrative role in the Quatuor Bozzini as a organism — Clemens Merkel is in charge of concerts abroad to mention but one —, etc. Moreover, each member used a different language: Italian for Isabelle Bozzini, French for Stéphanie Bozzini, German for Clemens Merkel and English for Nadia Francavilla.

    Musically, the string work was on the soft and airy side. It actually was strangely reminiscent of Feldman’s later piece for strings in terms of touch and continuity, although without the perpetual permutation of patterns so typical of the late American composer. Strange because Derome and Hétu’s esthetics usually have little in common with Feldman’s, but nevertheless were pleasantly surprising. Speaking of Feldman, it is interesting to note that, at one point during the third part, violist Stéphanie Bozzini played for a few minutes a melody that was very reminiscent of the famous one that closes Rothko Chapel. On the other hand, the first part featured some quotes from the likes of physicist Hubert Reeves, comedian Brigitte Poupart and writer Madeleine Gagnon. Those inscribed themselves in an exploration of everyday nature quite prominent in Hétu’s work, and to a lesser extent in Derome’s, but proved to be less convincing in this particular composition for their effect withered quickly and their pertinence failed to establish itself.

    According to the program notes, in Le Mensonge et l’identité, the string quartet, as an entity, is considered a microcosm of society. The exploration of identity that occupies the piece thus inherits a social dimension. Yet, the one question that is not addressed directly through the form and content of the piece, or at least the one that is not resolved explicitly, is that of the lie, of the “mensonge”. In the end, Le Mensonge et l’identité tends to suggest that the lie is the one we, as a society, have been building for ourselves and comforting ourselves in for the last 40 years by refusing to identify ourselves through society, that is by believing one’s identity can be independent of that of a more global ensemble to which we participate and which partly defines us…

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    11 February 2008
    By Kate Molleson in The Gazette (Québec), February 11, 2008

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    Bozzini’s all-Cage evening does its magic. McGill’s Tanna Schulich Hall — an ideal room for this kind of concert — was near full, and the audience was breathtakingly silent. This was Cage lovingly played and received.”

    John Cage’s later string quartets — the String Quartet in Four Parts (1949-50), Thirty Pieces for String Quartet (1983) and Four (1989) — are not perhaps immediately accessible. They are exercises in sonic quality, manipulating time and space to make room for a soundscape that is at once strange and mesmerizing. Our perceptions, too, are manipulated; patterns repeat and slowly evolve, so that even the slightest bowstroke becomes familiar, and dissonances are played so tenderly we forget they’re supposed to sound harsh. Cage was a fearless experimenter, and his techniques skirt the boundaries of our tolerance. In Nearly Stationary, the third movement of the String Quartet in Four Parts, it’s the nearly that’s vital. The music isn’t static, but suspended — a hiatus from real time.

    Which is why the Quatuor Bozzini’s immersive all-Cage program worked so well on Saturday evening. Hearing the three pieces in succession allowed us to transition into an altered mindset, where it’s impossible to be hurried or preoccupied. McGill’s Tanna Schulich Hall — an ideal room for this kind of concert — was near full, and the audience was breathtakingly silent. This was Cage lovingly played and received.

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    11 February 2008
    By Claude Gingras in La Presse (Québec), February 11, 2008

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    “L’exploit — car c’en fut un — avait attiré 125 personnes.”

    Bien sûr, le Bozzini aurait pu marquer le centenaire d’Elliott Carter, toujours vivant, avec une intégrale de ses quatuors à cordes. Il a choisi l’agitateur John Cage (1912-1992) et ses trois opus spécifiquement destinés à cette formation.

    Sauf erreur, une première à Montréal pour un compositeur qui nous a pourtant visités à quelques reprises. L’exploit — car c’en fut un — avait attiré 125 personnes samedi soir au nouveau et acoustiquement excellent Tanna-Schulich Hall de McGill.

    Le programme se déroule dans l’ordre de composition des quatuors. Tout d’abord, de 1949-50 et donc d’un Cage assez jeune: String Quartet in four parts, le «parts» faisant référence au nombre de mouvements. Au total: 21 minutes de très petits accords secs et dissonants proclamant le refus absolu de toute émotion. Tout Cage est déjà là, avec les premiers balbutiements que d’autres s’approprieront plus tard et baptiseront «minimalisme». À la toute fin, la plume laisse échapper un début de mélodie. Qu’on se rassure: elle ne commettra plus jamais cette «erreur».

    Suivent Thirty Pieces for string quartet, de 1983. Comme le demande Cage, les musiciens sont postés aux quatre coins de la salle. Certains auditeurs ont la chance d’avoir, par exemple, et ce fut mon cas, la violoncelliste à quelques pas. Pendant 30 minutes, les quatre coéquipiers se partagent — se lancent, en fait — une musique beaucoup plus complexe, assortie d’une multiplicité de signes concernant les accents et la dynamique.

    Dans la salle flotte un nuage d’hypnose, que l’entracte allège à peine et qui provoque même plusieurs départs. On termine avec Four, de 1989. Encore 30 minutes où, cette fois, la stérilité atteint son comble. Libres de jouer leur musique ou celle du pupitre voisin, les musiciens donnent carrément l’impression qu’ils accordent doucement et longuement, et toujours plus doucement et toujours plus longuement, leurs instruments, produisant continuellement les mêmes petits sons autour des mêmes notes, sans avancer. En fait, les Bozzini pourraient faire exactement la même chose, sans partition.

    Un gros mot vient évidemment à l’esprit: fumisterie. Pourtant, on ne s’est pas ennuyé un seul instant pendant ces quelque deux heures. Parce qu’à chaque instant, Cage crée quelque chose avec rien. Il ne répond à aucune de nos questions, mais il a le don d’en susciter beaucoup!

    blogue@press-3483 press@3483
    23 November 2007
    By Rolf Haglund in Borås Tidning (Sweden), November 23, 2007

    Text

    “The way the world looks today, maybe it’s not so strange that artists in all genres are responding by lifting forth the most clean sense of beauty. Evil does not let itself be fought with something equally crooked, with power or violence, when life itself is in danger. This is how I experience the singularly skilled and brave Canadian Quatuor Bozzini’s choice of expression free from all outward ornamentation to reach the musical core… The musicians made a grand performance… The people of Borås have had the chance to hear one of the most meaningful and finally most successful art-esthetical experiments we know of.”

    [Translation] The way the world looks today, maybe it’s not so strange that artists in all genres are responding by lifting forth the most clean sense of beauty. Evil does not let itself be fought with something equally crooked, with power or violence, when life itself is in danger. This is how I experience the singularly skilled and brave Canadian Quatuor Bozzini’s choice of expression free from all outward ornamentation to reach the musical core. Performing the first two of Borås native Lars Hallnas’ string quartets — of ten planned — they were very much at home. Not a vibrato during the whole evening, giving the abstract quality of the music an unusual effect.

    In both quartets Hallnas seems to have extracted the most magic moments of vibrating stillness and through-lit harmony in the spirit of Schubert or Beethoven. However, he stores such moments — varying in length from short to very short and minimal — after each other, 24 movements in each quartet. The effect is surprising. After the first two or three glimpses of this exquisite beauty the listener adjusts. We quickly enter a state of meditative listening where timelessness, concentration and reflection are created. Typically enough, Hallnas calls himself a hopeless intellectual, with intuition limited to perhaps ten percent and abstract thinking making up the other ninety percent.

    The musicians made a grand performance, although the first quartet perhaps had too soft and reticent character. With a somewhat more powerful performance, the second was given larger lines and deeper shadows, although never of the angst-ridden kind. It was more like sitting in the shadow of a huge oak tree, calmly reflecting on nature’s constantly changing details. The effect was in part minimalistic, but here beyond chance and seeking of effects. With his quartets, Hallnas takes his place among the most influential of contemporary composers.

    The experiment to allow the same quartet to take on Schubert and Beethoven are among my most exciting musical experiences of all time. As a whole, Schubert was the most successful. To meet what this 17-year old produced of beauty and richness in nuance was like seeing the eighth wonder of the world. Beethoven’s late a minor quartet didn’t have the same overwhelming effect in the first two movements, but in Heiliger Dankgesang and thereafter to the end, the fantastical sounds became larger and braver, more beautiful than perhaps anything I have heard. The people of Borås have had the chance to hear one of the most meaningful and finally most successful art-esthetical experiments we know of. Imagine, this was the first time that Bozzini took on this Beethoven quartet.

    blogue@press-3488 press@3488
    1 November 2007
    By Stanley Fefferman in Showtimemagazine.ca (Canada), November 1, 2007

    Text

    “The Quatuor Bozzini convey the authority of their understanding of the music and their enthusiasm for it.”

    The Bozzini played two contemporary pieces that exploit extended techniques and raw sonorities, many of them percussive and harsh. They also played a piece by Brahms that sounded, at first, to have the same raw quality as the earlier pieces, but seemed out of place and unpleasant here. Gradually, it dawned, that the Bozzini touch, so raw, made the Brahms sound fresh and new and gave much pleasure.

    Claude Vivier’s Pulau Dewata is a Balinese inspired ‘single line’ score that does not specify any musical instruments. Since its birth in the late ‘70’s this piece has been arranged for saxophone quartet, solo percussionist and chamber orchestra. Tonight’s performance was arranged for the Quattuor in 2002 by composer Michael Oesterle and has been recorded by them.

    On hearing the first few minutes of Vivier/Oesterle’s repetitive, percussive, staccato short phrases, one could easily imagine the sound of it in winds or brass or percussion—an altogether pleasant and interesting effect. There is very little in the way of melody until the very end. The musicality of Pulau Dewata relies on alternation and combination of thinly orchestrated queer pitches and timbres, changes in rhythms and dynamics.

    The music is stark, repeatedly focuses the attention and relaxes it into a pregnant calm. The Quattuor Bozzini convey the authority of their understanding of the music and their enthusiasm for it.

    Thomas Steigler’s Namenlose Garten [String Quartet No. 3], (2003)” is a 20 minute piece, commissioned by the Bozzini and recently recorded by them. The writing is based on eighth, quarter, and semi-tones, which allows some very smooth, glossy textures that are attractive. Even the passages of silent and almost silent bowing give the illusion of a mirrored surface. Many of the sonorities are onomatopoeic, often resembling whale sounds, and lugubrious, electronic, guttural, digestive tract sounds, sounds from the margin of the musical palette. Based on a portfolio of garden drawings, Steigler’s sonic environments are intriguing.

    The themes that open Brahms’s third and last string quartet are happy, scherzo-like and polka in rhythmic interplay, and one could not quite connect with the Bozzini’s account which seem to carry over much of the high contrast, stark, not to say ‘harsh’ tones of the previous experimental pieces. However, the second movement, which is lush, slow and improvisatory, seemed to come out as a refreshing blend of Brahms and Bozzini. Passages bore their signature glassiness; disjointed timing and harsh timbres in other passages seemed to bring out new and attractive textures in Brahms’s music.

    Clemens Merkel, a deft player, intrigued by getting fluty sounds out of his first violin during the third movement, in which the voice of Stéphanie Bozzini’s viola, moody and passionate, also distinguished itself. The theme and eight variations of the finale showed the Bozzini at their best. Though the main thrust of this group seems to be in New Music (they have recorded Steve Reich, Jurg Frey, Jo Kondo, Howard Skempton) I would welcome another chance to hear the sound they make playing great music of the past.

    blogue@press-3487 press@3487
    1 March 2007
    By Gayle Young in Musicworks #97 (Canada), March 1, 2007

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    “… Arbor Vitae is Tenney’s last composition, commissioned by Montréal’s Quatuor Bozzini, who played it with intense musicality and immense sensitivity…”

    James Tenney (1934-2006) had a long history at California Institute of the Arts, known to many simply as CalArts. He taught there before he moved to Toronto in 1976, and he was invited to return in 2000 to take the Roy E Disney Family Chair in Musical Composition. His landmark series of ten Postal Pieces was composed there between 1964 and 1971, though most were written during two-weeks in 1971. These sometimes-long pieces, each scored on one side of a post card, bring attention to aspects of form, acoustics, and performance gesture. On the first night of the festival, nine Postal Pieces were played simultaneously in stairwells, corners of hallways, practice rooms, and other locations throughout the CalArts building, while listeners moved freely from one piece to another. At each site, one could hear no interference from the other performances, but while wandering in search of locations one often heard echoes of distant music, which filled the building with the resonance of Tenney’s music. The building came alive with sound as the many musicians and listeners circulated through it. Harold Budd, for whom (night) was written, played this intimate work for solo piano in a darkened room, while James Fulkerson, who produced the New World Records CD of Postal Pieces, played For Percussion, Perhaps Or… (night) on solo trombone with live electronics.

    Events throughout the festival combined a sense of warmth and affection with the highest standards of musical performance. All events were free to the public, and all performers and organizers donated their time. The festival carried an entire community into dynamic connection with Tenney’s music and with one another. We heard the world premieres of two Tenney pieces, Arbor Vitae for string quartet, and Last Spring in Toronto for gamelan and small orchestra. Arbor Vitae is Tenney’s last composition, commissioned by Montréal’s Quatuor Bozzini, who played it with intense musicality and immense sensitivity. It was completed shortly before Tenney died, with assistance from composer Michael Winter, who studied with Tenney at CalArts a few years ago. The composition brings Tenney’s concept of harmonic space to new heights, incorporating pitches based on such complex numerical ratios that the players have to rely on frequency counters while performing. The piece successfully combines timbre and harmony for the listener, and demonstrates the validity of Tenney’s theory of harmonic space in what seems, paradoxically, to be a pitch-free context. The piece begins with high overtones playing unidentifiable harmonies, in a wash of sound that presents an acoustic unity that would be impossible if random pitches were used. As the piece progresses, lower pitches emerge, but the overall sensation that we are listening to sound, in the physical sense, and scintillatingly beautiful sound, renders irrelevant any concern with the usual musical identifiers. Tenney’s last piece is thus conceptually similar to his Postal Pieces. Arbor Vitae is notated in careful detail, yet the emphasis remains on sound as experience, as simple form, as something a listener can become immersed within—something that frees the aural imagination.

    Last Spring in Toronto brought the CalArts gamelan into the foreground, with a small orchestra behind it, in a pointillistic exploration of register change and the impact of changing pitch ranges on the combined timbres of the instruments. The piece has much in common with Tenney’s early computer music pieces, composed at Bell Labs, which present sounds organized into large-scale formal shapes using computer-controlled operations that take place at progressively smaller scales. A listener is free to focus on the musical events taking place at any of these levels and to shift attention from one to another. This is a rather permissive way of listening, and Tenney structured the piece in such a way that he avoided telling us what to listen for, or what to pay attention to, again freeing the aural imagination from preconceptions.

    The three days of the festival were filled with amazing performances of wonderful music. All the films that Tenney did music for were presented. Critical Band, a piece that clearly defines Tenney’s concept of harmonic space, was played by an ensemble of almost forty musicians. The performance of In a Large Open Space again brought the building into a state of resonance, played with such quiet focus that it drew attention to the impending silence of Tenney’s absence.

    blogue@press-3282 press@3282
    9 February 2007
    By Rolf Haglund in Borås Tidning (Sweden), February 9, 2007

    Text

    “… it bordered on the sublime.”

    [Translation] With an audience twice as big as normally come to these concerts, Quatuor Bozzini (who make a virtue of performing almost completely without vibrato and with extremely clean intonation) gave another of their dream performances last Wednesday evening. First a fine show of new world minimalism, thereafter examples of the old world’s more melancholic moods in three such fine versions that it bordered on the sublime.

    Three quartets by Alvin Lucier made use of microscopic changes in pitch, in the piece Navigations, down to a thousandths of a half tone. Obviously this is impossible to hear, but is still perceived as beatings in the slowing tempo and dynamic — almost the same feeling as when the smallest sounds become more present in thick fog.

    Even more extreme dynamic variations down to the barely audible were presented in the next piece, a thoroughly exquisite quartet by minimalist legend Terry Jennings.

    Could anything be cleaner, deeper, more precious? Well yes, old Europe won the game, at the same time of course as the Bozzini’s brought forth maximum closeness and stringence.

    Jeney’s Ricercare captures the whole spectrum, from Gregorian chant to bitter contemporarity.

    Of Allgen, a first performance of his whole notes movement from the gigantic Quartet No 3 composed in 1943 — a chorale of eternity performed as though on an organ, a deeply touching simplicity, even more elevated translated to four strings.

    And still, as usual Aldo Clementi was the one to finally open up the heavenly gates with his masterwork Momento.

    blogue@press-3485 press@3485
    31 January 2007
    By Gunnar Tibell in Uppsala Nya Tidning (Sweden), January 31, 2007

    Text

    “[in Brahms’ Quartet in B Flat Major opus 67] the quartet succeeded remarkably well in bringing out the transparency of sound and to let the melodic material move freely between the four voices… Warm applause will follow the musicians on their eight concerts tour.”

    The chamber music society’s contacts with Rikskonserter gives interesting possibilities for unusual performances, as in last Monday when Canadian Quatuor Bozzini perfomed in Alfven-salen. The name of the group is taken from the last names of the musicians in the two lower voices, violist Stephanie and cellist Isabelle. The two violinists are Nadia Francavilla and Clemens Merkels, who took turns playing the first violin part.

    Among Canadian composers Claude Vivier holds a prominent place and the quartet had chosen to begin its concert with Pulau Dewata, inspired by native Balinese music. The title translates as “The Island of the Gods”, and it was quite possible to imagine how it could sound on the island, even though the instrumentation would most likely be completely different. Changing rhythms, accents, viola and cello in octaves with violins as birdsong, and finally a traditional signature which the composer, according to the program, wished to present to the people of Bali. We happily accept the offer of such a fine example of Canadian art music.

    The next piece, an unfinished string quartet by Franz Schubert, was a huge contrast to the first. It has been touted as a precursor to later masterworks, and shows clear indication of the melodic charm which we recognize from the music of Schubert. Nadia, playing first violin in this work, was maybe unnecessarily discreet in her role.

    The ensemble playing continued to be excellent.

    Last year the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dmitri Schostakovitch was celebrated all over the musical world. That the year has come and gone does of course not mean that his works won’t be performed any more. The quartet had chosen his 11th string quartet, in f minor — a seven movement work which provided ample opportunities for impressive ensemble playing and exciting sonorities. The composer switches between elegiac moments and rather merry ones, all performed in changing constellations, keeping the listener engaged in the music.

    Finally yet another of the masterworks of the quartet repertoire, Johannes BrahmsQuartet in B Flat Major opus 67, written in 1875. Despite the fact that the year had seen much music of newer styles, Brahms stays in an almost classical expression. Here is the romantic side, the melodic as in the second movement’s hymnal character, or the carnival mood of the third movement. In this movement the quartet succeeded remarkably well in bringing out the transparency of sound and to let the melodic material move freely between the four voices. The variations in the final movement included a beautiful section with the two violins playing legato against the lower string pizzicatos, all leading towards a powerful ending. Warm applause will follow the musicians on their eight concerts tour.

    blogue@press-3484 press@3484
    1 May 2006
    By Matthias R Entreß in Positionen #66 (Germany), May 1, 2006

    Text

    “There were also some overwhelming moments. One of them was the string quartet Gradients of Detail by the Berlin-based Canadian Chiyoko Szlavnics, performed by the outstanding Bozzini Quartet from Quebec, who successfully realised the rather simple glissando-processes as free flowing moments musicaux… A twenty-minute enigma for the ears, one which never allowed our attention to slacken.”

    [Translation] […] Luckily, in the rest of the [Festival] program, aside from some pieces which were merely well-crafted and were more appropriate compulsory "New Music" exercises for a subscription-series concert than for a new music festival, there were also some overwhelming moments. One of them was the string quartet Gradients of Detail by the Berlin-based Canadian Chiyoko Szlavnics, performed by the outstanding Bozzini Quartet from Quebec, who successfully realised the rather simple glissando-processes as free flowing moments musicaux, which are not apparent when referring to the conceptual idea, but which have been intensively developed from graphically-notated progressions by the composer. A twenty-minute enigma for the ears, one which never allowed our attention to slacken.

    Töntrager

    “Zum Glück gab es… auch große Momente. Einer davon war das Streichquartett Gradients of Detail der Berliner Kanadierin Chiyoko Szlavnics, aus dessen eigentlich simplen Glissandoverläufen das überragende Bozzini-Quartett aus Quebec Momente losgelösten Musizierens schlug, die sich aus dem Konzept nicht erklären ließen. … Ein 20-minütiges Rätsel für das Ohr, das die Aufmerksamkeit nie erlahmen ließ.”

    […] Zum Glück gab es im restlichen Programm neben einigen bloß handwerklich ganz gut gemachten Stücken, die vielleicht in die Pflicht der Abonnementskonzerte, nicht aber in eine Neue-Musik-Messe gehörten, auch große Momente. Einer davon war das Streichquartett Gradients of Detail der Berliner Kanadierin Chiyoko Szlavnics, aus dessen eigentlich simplen Glissandoverläufen das überragende Bozzini-Quartett aus Quebec Momente losgelösten Musizierens schlug, die sich aus dem Konzept nicht erklären ließen, die von der Komponistin allerdings intensiv — aus ursprünglich graphisch notierten Verläufen — erarbeitet worden waren. Ein 20-minütiges Rätsel für das Ohr, das die Aufmerksamkeit nie erlahmen ließ.

    blogue@press-3153 press@3153
    19 January 2006
    By Claude Gingras in La Presse (Québec), January 19, 2006

    Text

    “… [les 3 œuvres] reçurent des exécutions absolument magistrales de la part du Bozzini…”

    Impossible de ne pas le remarquer: le Quatuor Bozzini faisait mardi soir salle presque comble — lire quelque 300 personnes — dans ce même vénérable Redpath Hall de McGill où notre autre «quatuor moderne en i», le Molinari, en attire habituellement 100. Et il a attiré cet auditoire en dépit des conditions atmosphériques et, qui plus est, avec un programme entièrement local.

    Il est vrai que le concert faisait partie de la saison de la SMCQ et comportait une création de Walter Boudreau, le pittoresque directeur de l’organisme. Le milieu du contemporain y était bien représenté, notamment par plusieurs collègues de Boudreau et des deux autres compositeurs au programme, Denys Bouliane (partenaire de W. B. dans maintes entreprises) et Jean Lesage.

    Le quatuor de Boudreau créé mardi soir devait l’être, à l’origine, par le Molinari, mais les circonstances ont voulu qu’il passe éventuellement au Bozzini. Autre rapprochement entre les deux ensembles: mardi soir, on avait placé le Bozzini le long d’un mur latéral et les sièges (d’ailleurs tout neufs) en demi-cercle autour. On y voyait mieux les musiciens; surtout, on entendait mieux. Musica Camerata suit aussi cette formule. Le Molinari devrait y venir à son tour.

    On peut ignorer le titre donné par Boudreau à son quatuor. Ce qui compte, c’est ce qu’on entend: de lointains échos de Victoria (Tomas Luis, bien sûr!) savamment imbriqués dans le tissu musical et créant avec celui-ci des contrastes très forts et très poétiques. Il y a là pour 28 minutes de plans sonores différents et d’agrégats dont certains sont absolument nouveaux en langage de quatuor à cordes. Une immense réussite, à réentendre. Le troisième Quatuor de Jean Lesage, également en création, et une reprise de Denys Bouliane complétaient le programme et reçurent, comme le Boudreau, des exécutions absolument magistrales de la part du Bozzini. De riches dissonances chez Lesage, des bruissements extrêmement raffinés chez Bouliane, mais il n’y a ni chez l’un, ni chez l’autre, l’originalité de Boudreau. Mardi soir, en tout cas.

    blogue@press-2977 press@2977
    18 January 2006
    By Christophe Huss in Le Devoir (Québec), January 18, 2006

    Text

    “Ces compositeurs ont une chance extrême de pouvoir compter sur un quatuor aussi impliqué, sûr et imaginatif que le Quatuor Bozzini, qui évolue au top-niveau international en la matière.”

    Ce concert de la SMCQ mettait en valeur des créateurs québécois confirmés. Au-delà de la simple juxtaposition, la première partie, consacrée à Boudreau et Lesage, donnait l’occasion d’entendre deux compositions reposant sur la transformation d’un matériau préexistant, respectivement le motet à quatre voix Tradiderunt Me In Manus Impiorum («Ils m’ont livré aux mains des impies») de Victoria et un fragment de la 5e Symphonie de Schubert.

    Le Grand Méridien s’inscrit dans un cycle comportant notamment Le Voyage et Golgotha, partitions qui s’inspirent également du motet de Victoria. À l’épreuve du quatuor à cordes, Boudreau élague la profusion quasi anarchique qui gangrenait Golgotha. Les récurrences fragmentaires du motet de Victoria sont plus fréquentes, plus lipides, comme un moyen de se ressourcer dans le tumulte. À l’image du compositeur, Le Grand Méridien est une partition viscérale. Mais il y a beaucoup plus ici, notamment dans le jeu sur la métallisation du son par un incessant balancier entre le «sul ponticello» (sonorités métalliques et grinçantes) et le jeu normal, dualité à laquelle se superposent la circulation des fragments entre les instruments et les écarts dynamiques très creusés. La dernière section, qui débute par l’indication «grave» et débouche sur un solo de violoncelle, instrument qui, in fine, portera la citation complète du motet, est remarquable d’efficacité et de raffinement dans les couleurs.

    Je n’ai pas trouvé cette finesse d’esprit, cette matière et cette subtilité chez Jean Lesage. Le compositeur part d’une citation textuelle qu’il désintègre progressivement. L’œuvre repose de manière redondante sur des processus de fragmentation de cellules de plus en plus divisées. Mais le traitement sonore et linguistique du quatuor à cordes par Jean Lesage me paraît bien moins imaginatif.

    Denys Bouliane, par contre, a apprivoisé ce médium, l’interaction entre les instruments et les sonorités que l’on peut en tirer. Quoiqu’on pense de ces divers tableaux, moins organiques en apparence, Bouliane a subtilement traité le sujet. Dans son commentaire de la création de l’œuvre (2003), François Tousignant avouait avoir découvert un Bouliane «totalement profond». Dans sa manière de scruter le son, assurément.

    Ces compositeurs ont une chance extrême de pouvoir compter sur un quatuor aussi impliqué, sûr et imaginatif que le Quatuor Bozzini, qui évolue au top-niveau international en la matière.

    blogue@press-2976 press@2976
    5 March 2005
    By François Tousignant in Le Devoir (Québec), March 5, 2005

    Press Clipping

    blogue@press-2888 press@2888
    2 March 2005
    By François Tousignant in Le Devoir (Québec), March 2, 2005

    Press Clipping

    blogue@press-2887 press@2887
    23 December 2004
    By Réjean Beaucage in Voir (Québec), December 23, 2004

    Text

    “Une collection qui nous réserve bien des surprises.”

    Il y a longtemps que l’on attendait un disque du Quatuor Bozzini et c’est avec sa propre collection (distribuée par DAME) que l’ensemble se lance enfin pour nous offrir ces premiers extraits de son répertoire. On y entend la trèss surréaliste Daydream Mechanics V de Michael Osterle, qui signe aussi un très bel arrangement de Palau Dewata de Claude Vivier, et des pièces de Jean Lesage et Malcolm Goldstein. Une collection qui nous réserve bien des surprises.

    blogue@press-2886 press@2886
    4 December 2004
    By Guy Marceau in La Presse (Québec), December 4, 2004

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    Le premier marque les cinq ans du groupe; le second est tout juste né. Portrait Montréal, premier disque attendu du Quatuor Bozzini voué au répertoire contemporain, paru récemment chez DAME (voir critique dans nos pages), est sans conteste une excellente carte de visite pour le groupe et une vitrine sur quatre créateurs d’ici. L’autre, il s’appelle Félix, nous dit la mère, Isabelle Bozzini, et naquit le lendemain de l’entrevue, comme un cadeau de Noël avant l’heure.

    Les bonnes choses n’arrivent donc jamais seules peut-on dire pour le Quatuor Bozzini qui a atteint l’âge tendre de 5 ans, seuil parfois critique pour les petites entreprises. «Au départ, on s’est demandé s’il y avait de la place pour um autre quatuar à cordes en musique contemporaine à Montréal, précise Isabelle Bozzini. Mais le Molinari et le Bozzini ne font pas tout à fait la même chose et à l’image des nombreux ensemblés baroques à Montréal, on se démarque en abordant les zones moins fréquentées.» D’ailleurs, la reconnaissance du milieu est venue deux ans après la création officielle du groupe lorsqu’il a été nommé Découverte de l’année aux prix Opos 2001. Mais a fond, les prix, qucssa’donne ?

    «Évidemnment, le prix en argent donne toujours un sérieux coup de main à un groupe qui démarre dans le milieu, et ça paraît toujours bien dams une biographie, répond Isabelle. Mais on est davantage reconnu par le répertoire qu’on choisit et la façon de le présenter. Affirmer notre personnalité, c’est ça qui paye vraiment en bout de ligne.» Le Bozzini n’a pas attendu les prix et les éloges. Il a foncé droit devant dans un parcours marqué par le travail, la découverte et surtout, le souci de faire connaître les compositeurs canadiens (dont Rea, Bouliane, Godin, Rizutto) et nord-américains (dont Ives, Crumb, Reich), ici et à l’étranger. Pas une année depuis ne s’est déroulée sans qu’ils interprètent leur répertoire dans des festivals importants notamment en Allemagne, en Angleterre (Huddersfield Conternporary Music Festival), à Dublin (Crash Festival) ou au June in Buffalo. Le seul fait d’être réinvité dans ces pays confirme une certaine reconnaissance, et les critiques lues dans leur dossier de presse sont éloquentes à ce titre.

    Un premier disque

    Et le contenu de Portrait Montréal? «Mis à part l’œuvre de feu Claude Vivier (Pulau Dewata), on a voulu souligner le travail de nos collaborateurs réguliers, dont Malcolm Goldstein (A New Song of Many Paces for in These Times) aujourd’hui établi au Québec, Michael Oesterle (Daydream Mechames V), et Jean Lesage (Quatuor à cordes II), précise Isabelle. D’ailleurs c’est expressément pour nous que Jean Lesage a écrit ses deux premiers quatuor à cordes, et il a le projet d’en écrire quatre.» Marqué par l’éclectisme, Portrait Montréal distille des atmosphères sonores étonnantes dans une facture relativement accessible pour le néophyte. Un plus pour cette musique qui est loin de rallier les grandes masses. «Si l’auditeur écoute le disque dans son salon, devient curieux et réfléchit à ce qu’il entend, il mettra peut-être le pied dehors pour venir nous écouter en concert. Ce sera déjà un grand pas.»

    Le Quatuor Bozzini a connu deux changements d’effectifs. «On a maintenant trouvé la formation définitive tant au plan de l’expérience que dé l’intérêt pour la musique contemporaine», précise Isabelle. Depuis plus de deux ans, la violoniste Nadia Francavilla s’est jointe à Clemens Merkel, violon, Stéphanie et Isabelle Bozzini, respectivement altiste et violoncelliste. C’est avec cette nouvelle formation que le Bozzini a entrepris de résider jusqu’en 2005) au Théâtre La Chapelle. «Ce laboratoire nous a permis d’explorer d’autres approches, de provoquer des rencontres avec les autres arts de la scène comme la danse, de sortir du modèle du concert classique, et de jouer pour un autre type de public, ce qui n’est pas négligeable.»

    À venir pour le groupe, d’abord une pause de quelques mois, maternité oblige, et retour aux instruments pour préparer les concerts de la deuxième moitié de la saison. Sur disque, dans leur série «qb», plusieurs projets mijotent mais un programme centré autour des quatuors du compositeur suisse Juerg Frey est déjà enregistré et paraîtra au printemps 2005.

    blogue@press-2681 press@2681
    13 November 2004
    By Josef Woodard in Los Angeles Times (USA), November 13, 2004

    Text

    “In a carreer-spanning concert featuring the Bozzini Quartet, Tenney’s specialists, the composer’s ideas are engagingly performed…”

    Composer James Tenney has claimed that he tries to avoid emotionality in his music, preferring to explore diverse experimental ideas. Yet on the evidence of the career-spanning “James Tenney at 70” concert Thursday night at REDCAT, dodging emotion is one goal he hasn’t entirely attained. A certain austerity hovers over his work, but the results are never served cold.

    Currently the music department chair at CalArts, Tenney has long been involved in avoiding the usual. He has delved into conceptual Minimalist ideas, mathematical procedures, just intonation, drones and chance operations, with affectionate nods to his hero and colleague John Cage. He has also pursued interests in acoustical and perceptual phenomena: how we listen as much as what we listen to.

    What might sound dryly intellectual on paper, however, came alive Thursday as the workings of a fine, elastic musical mind.

    In a compact this-is-your-life fashion, the program -- featuring the Montréal-based Bozzini Quartet, who are Tenney specialists -- leapt back and forth in time and styles. It even included the world premiere of a 1955 string quartet, written when Tenney was an obviously gifted, and obviously Bartok-copping, 21-year-old student. The solo Just a Bagatelle, played lucidly by violist Stéphanie Bozzini, was a rare trip into serialist writing, and the composer’s unexpected, astringent grace was intact here as well, showing a love of timbre and punctuating silences.

    Indeed, the careful-yet-freedom-loving Tenney touch governed the entire program, which was neatly framed by two versions of his piece Koan. The first, written in 1971 and played with illuminating care by Clemens Merkel on violin, is simple in design, haunting as a listening experience. Two tones steadily oscillate, one constantly shifting in near-infinitesimal pitch variations, creating an aural tension and the sense of a magnetic field in flux. Closing the concert was a string quartet version written in 1984, with the sonic and strategic plots thickened.

    Koan is one of Tenney’s Postal Pieces, its musical designs rudimentary enough to fit on a postcard. Another was Having Never Written a Note for Percussion, in which Danny Holt created a real-time arc of crescendo and decrescendo on the tam-tam.

    Ergodos II (for John Cage), from 1964, represented Tenney’s electronic music phase, when he worked at Bell Labs with engineer Max Matthews. It remains an effective example of electro-acoustic music, featuring a quintet of live musicians engaging in delicate transitory dialogue with phantom electronics. In the string trio piece Harmonium #5, glimpses of logic and order keep abutting anarchic disjointedness. Harmonies happen, then disperse in a semi-random universe.

    Whether or not Tenney intends it, his music is engagingly meditative on more than one level, alluring in sound and thought.

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    1 November 2004
    By Réjean Beaucage in La Scena Musicale #10:3 (Québec), November 1, 2004

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    Le Théâtre La Chapelle (TLC), à Montréal, est un lieu particulier où se sont déroulé, depuis 15 ans, de nombreux grands moments de musique nouvelle («actuelle» ou «contemporaine»). Son directeur artistique, Richard Simas, invitait en 2003 le Quatuor Bozzini pour une résidence de deux ans; «Nous voulions, écrit-il dans le programme du prochain concert du Quatuor, établir un dialogue entre notre lieu de création-diffusion et ce brillant ensemble de cordes. Nous croyions pouvoir offrir des perspectives et des possibilités dans le but de participer à une étape de leur évolution. Nous voulions aussi simplement pouvoir entendre le son de leurs cordes et leurs voix chez nous, en répétition, en discussion, en recherche, en travail technique, en spectacle, en lecture de nouvelles pièces.»

    Le Quatuor produisait l’automne dernier un grand événement autour du collectif allemand Wandelweiser en invitant aussi le compositeur Christian Wolff et l’ensemble américain Augenmusick. Cette fois-ci, tout juste de retour d’une série de concerts en Suède et en Allemagne, les membre du Bozzini nous présentent un programme moins éclaté, mais qui ne manque pas d’ambition.

    La violoncelliste Isabelle Bozzini explique: «Nous avons choisi ces deux pièces de compositeurs américains pour leurs thèmes: celle de George Crumb, Black Angels-Thirtteen Images from the Dark Land (1970), pour sa référence à la guerre du Vietnam, et celle de Steve Reich, Different Trains (l980), pour son évocation de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Le concert porte le titre In tempore belli (En temps de guerre), et propose donc un parallèle entre les situations évoquées par les compositeurs et celle que nous vivons ces dernières années.» L’altiste Stéphanie Bozzini précise: «Outre leur programme, les œuvres ont aussi en commun le recours à l’amplificadon, celle de Crumb étant pour quatuor électrique et celle de Reich pour quatuor et bande; nous trouvions donc que les deux pièces allaient trés bien ensemble.»

    L’œuvre de Reich a ceci de particulier que le quatuor joue en étant accompagné par un enregistrement de trois quatuors à cordes. Depuis la création de l’œuvre, l’enregistrement qu’utilisent tous les quatuors qui l’interprètent est celui réalisé par le Kronos Quartet pour la création. «Nous avons décidé de faire nos propres enregistrements, explique le violoniste Clemens Merkel. En utilisant le CD stéréo du Kronos Quartet, on doit ajuster notre jeu au leur et il n’y a pas de place pour une interprétation différente. Nous sommes le premier quatuor à réenregistrer les pistes d’accompagnement (16 heures de studio pour 27 minutes). Le son est donc différent (c’est le nôtre!), le mix aussi, et ça nous permettra éventuellement de faire paraître une version surround. Steve Reich en était trés heureux et il a hâte d’écouter le résultat.»

    Le quatuor lancera aussi ce soir-là son premier disque: «Nous avons notre propre collection, "QB", dans le catalogue de la compagnie de distribution DAME, explique Isabelle Bozzini. La violoniste Nadia Francavilla précise:«i1 s’agit d’œuvres de Jean Lesage (Quatuor no 2), Michael Oesterle (Daydream Mechanics V), Claude Vivier (Pulau Dewata, arr. Oesterle) et Malcolm Goldstein (A New Song of Many Faces for In These Times), réunies sous le titre Portrait Montréal

    Au printemps, le Quatuor poursuivra sa collabaration avec le TLC par un grand projet, un Marathon canadien, sur lequel nous reviendrons.

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    16 September 2003
    By François Tousignant in Le Devoir (Québec), September 16, 2003

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    1 September 2003
    in La Scena Musicale #9:1 (Québec), September 1, 2003

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    29 August 2003
    By François Tousignant in Le Devoir (Québec), August 29, 2003

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    27 August 2003
    By RB in Le Soleil (Québec), August 27, 2003

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    2 June 2003
    By Mary Kunz in The Buffalo News (USA), June 2, 2003

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    22 May 2003
    By Réjean Beaucage in Voir (Québec), May 22, 2003

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    15 May 2003
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    13 May 2003
    By Anno Schreier in Rheinische Post (Germany), May 13, 2003

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    12 March 2003
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    22 February 2003
    By Marie Claude Mirandette in Le Devoir (Québec), February 22, 2003

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    1 September 2002
    By Udo Kasemets in Musicworks #84 (Canada), September 1, 2002

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    2 July 2002
    By Claude Gingras in La Presse (Québec), July 2, 2002

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    1 June 2002
    in Oxford Music Now #19 (UK), June 1, 2002

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    17 May 2002
    By Alan Conter in The Globe and Mail (Canada), May 17, 2002

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    15 April 2002
    By Guy Marceau in La Presse (Québec), April 15, 2002

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    14 March 2002
    By Robert Scalia in Concordia’s Thursday Report (Québec), March 14, 2002

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    1 March 2002
    By Dominique Olivier in La Scena Musicale #7:6 (Québec), March 1, 2002

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    Les Concerts M, très actifs ces temps-ci, offrent en mars un événement-échange très stimulant avec des musiciens d’Irlande. Les concerts Voyages Dublin-Montréal seront présentés du 12 au 16 mars à la salle Oscar Peterson de l’Université Concordia. Au programme, il y aura quatre concerts (dont un électroacoustique, en collaboration avec Réseaux), une vingtaine de compositeurs, plus de 25 œuvres, dont une dizaine de créations et plusieurs premières montréalaises, 6 conférences… Le 13, le Quatuor Bozzini interprétera des pièces des Montréalais Scott Godin, Jean-Franç ois Laporte et Jean Lesage et des Dublinois Gerald Barry, Raymond Deane et Barbara Ellison; le 14, le concert électro nous fera à son tour voyager entre les deux villes, avec des œuvres des Montréalais Robert Normandeau et René Lussier (sa Chronique irlandaise) et des Irlandais Roger Doyle et Conor Curran. L’Ensemble Crash, de Dublin, rendra la pareille au Quatuor Bozzini en jouant les Montréalais Michel Frigon, Michel Gonneville et Marie Pelletier avec, également, des œuvres de compositeurs dublinois. Cette semaine d’activités se terminera par un concert conjoint de l’Ensemble Bradyworks (l’autre entité des Concerts M, avec le Quatuor Bozzini) et Vox 21 (de Dublin), où l’on entendra des pièces de Frédéric Roverselli, Ana Sokolović, Tim Brady et Ben Dwyer. Les liens qui unissent les deux villes sont de plusieurs ordres, que l’on pense à la situation politique, économique, aux problèmes d’identité culturelle et à la présence de compositeurs pionniers. Ce programme d’échanges institué par les Concerts M se poursuivra donc et amènera nos musiciens en Irlande à l’automne 2003, pour la reprise de l’événement. On ne peut qu’applaudir l’initiative de cette société de concerts qui donne un nouveau souffle au milieu de la musique contemporaine par son énergie, par l’audace de ses projets et par son ouverture à des répertoires variés.

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    6 December 2001
    By Réjean Beaucage in Voir (Québec), December 6, 2001

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    1 November 2001
    By Marc Chénard in La Scena Musicale #7:3 (Québec), November 1, 2001

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    Faisant peu à peu son chemin, le quatuor à cordes Bozzini peut se féliciter d’une année bien remplie. En effet, c’est à l’automne de l’an 2000 que cette jeune formation fit sa première percée en s’associant avec le guitariste compositeur Tim Brady, le chevronné directeur de l’Ensemble Bradyworks et l’organisateur des Concerts M. Fort de sa première saison, ce quatuor semble désormais sur sa lancée, comme le confirme sa feuille de route des derniers mois: première tournée européenne en Allemagne et en Suisse (fin d’avril, début de mai), résidence au Festival June in Buffalo, concert estival à Montréal en août, «L’Odyssée du quatuor à cordes»(un ambitieux programme de trois concerts en une soirée au Théâtre de la Chapelle le 15 septembre dernier), trois prestations à New York, au Kitchen et au American Festival of Microtonal Music, dans la dernière quinzaine du mois, bref, de quoi susciter l’envie de plus d’un ensemble de musique de chambre.

    Fondée en 1998 par les soeurs Bozzini (Stéphanie à l’alto et Isabelle au violoncelle), cette formation montréalaise mise principalement sur le répertoire contemporain, donc de compositeurs de notre temps, comme le souligne la violoncelliste, mais cela ne l’empêche pas pour autant d’inscrire des pages de Haydn, de Mozart ou de Chostakovitch dans ses programmes de concert. Comme deux et deux font quatre, l’ensemble compte aussi sur deux violonistes expérimentés, soit Clemens Merkel (un virtuose spécialiste en musiques contemporaines, qui a quitté son Allemagne natale pour s’établir au Québec) et Geneviève Beaudry (une interprète d’expérience qui a trempé dans tous les répertoires, tant ancien, baroque que contemporain).

    «Le quatuor est l’aboutissement de notre expérience commune», explique Isabelle, à peine de retour d’un second séjour européen qui lui a permis de jouer en duo, avec son conjoint Clemens, dans le prestigieux festival Ultima à Oslo.» En fait, c’est au moment de poursuivre mes études à l’Université de Montréal que j’ai formé un premier groupe avec ma soeur, le Quatuor Euterpe, et celui-ci nous a permis d’explorer un large éventail de musiques, tant “classiques” que “contemporaines”.» De Ives à Feldman, voire de Webern à Nono, l’actuel quatuor dispose d’un solide répertoire de référence, mais ce sont aussi les créations de nouvelles œuvres qui lui donnent son cachet. Plus que jamais, cette belle équipe poursuit son travail d’approfondissement des musiques de notre temps en exécutant un nombre accru d’œuvres québécoises et canadiennes, dont des créations récentes de pièces commandées à Jean Lesage, à Justin Marriner et à Michael Oesterle. Par-delà les titres qui composent son répertoire, cet ensemble cherche toujours à faire reculer ses frontières et sa récente Odyssée du mois de septembre lui a d’ailleurs donné l’occasion de présenter des programmes complets de musique microtonale et «électrique».

    En dépit du rythme croissant des activités du quatuor, il n’en demeure pas moins que la partie est loin d’être gagnée. «Nous sommes des musiciens pigistes après tout», renchérit Stéphanie, la soeur cadette, «car on doit encore faire toutes sortes de musiques, qu’elles soient baroques, classiques ou simplement alimentaires. Cependant, j’ai eu de la chance, parce que j’ai pu travailler dans plusieurs ensembles européens lors de mon stage d’études de deux ans à la Musikhochschule de Zurich.» Outre des cours particuliers qu’elle donne à l’Université Concordia, Isabelle est, elle aussi, active sur plusieurs fronts, notamment au sein des ensembles Arion et Kore.

    Comme tout nouveau venu qui cherche à se tailler une place au soleil, le quatuor place l’enregistrement au coeur de ses préoccupations. À ce chapitre, les nouvelles semblent prometteuses, car deux projets sérieux sont sur la table en ce moment. «À la suite de notre tournée européenne du printemps, précise la violoncelliste, nous avons eu une réaction favorable de la part de la maison Wandelweiser en Suisse, et elle se dit bien intéressée par nous, mais rien n’est encore arrêté en ce moment.» Désireux de diffuser la musique de chez nous, le quatuor compte aussi graver un autre disque vers la fin de l’été 2002, quoique les recherches se poursuivent toujours pour trouver du soutien.

    Bien lancé dans sa deuxième saison des Concerts M, le quatuor ne ralentira en rien ses activités durant les prochains mois et on pourra d’ailleurs l’entendre à cinq reprises d’ici mai. Parmi les rendez-vous prévus, le plus ambitieux de tous sera celui du 12 au 16 mars, lorsque le Quatuor Bozzini et l’Ensemble Bradyworks se diviseront les honneurs d’un événement conjoint (Voyage Dublin [Montréal] avec deux formations irlandaises, le Crash Ensemble et Vox 21. D’ici là, on pourra voir le quatuor dès le 11 novembre prochain, à 20 h, dans la salle de récital des Jeunesses Musicales du Canada (305, avenue Mont-Royal, 845-4108). Fidèle à sa vocation de présenter la contemporanéité musicale selon ses époques, le quatuor interprétera une œuvre de Malcolm Goldstein, en plus d’une de Sciarrino et d’une de Webern.

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    6 September 2001
    By Réjean Beaucage in Voir (Québec), September 6, 2001

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    9 August 2001
    in La Presse (Québec), August 9, 2001

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    9 August 2001
    By Réjean Beaucage in Voir (Québec), August 9, 2001

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    17 May 2001
    By Réjean Beaucage in Voir (Québec), May 17, 2001

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    3 May 2001
    By Andere Klänge in Aargauer Zeitung (Switzerland), May 3, 2001

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    10 March 2001
    By Guy Marceau in La Presse (Québec), March 10, 2001

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    Other texts in

    • La Presse (Québec), April 23, 2015
      “À l’occasion de ce concert, l’ensemble recevra le Prix des Amis de la musique canadienne, qui souligne l’engagement exceptionnel du Quatuor Bozzini à l’égard des compositeurs canadiens et de leur musique.”
    • La Presse (Québec), October 22, 2007
      “Le Bozzini a choisi ce répertoire… il le défend avec un zèle qui force l’admiration.”
    • Musicworks #92 (Canada), June 1, 2005
      “The Bozzini Quartet presented a fabulous concert…”
    • Borås Tidning (Sweden), November 13, 2004
      “It is close to impossible to catch in words the feeling of this weekend’s four concerts with New Music. It is necessary to start in the right place, with the musicians. Canadian-German Bozzini Quartet is the one quartet in the whole world that I prefer to hear… Clean colours and clean interpretations lift the qualities in the music which are subtle, yet incredibly artistically important.”
    • Die Zeit (Germany), April 25, 2004
      “… and the phenomenal Bozzini Quartet from Canada is leading us into the mountains. The end of [Charles Ives] second quartet is named “Call of the Mountains”. Here the music reaches its limits…”
    • Le Devoir (Québec), January 6, 2004
      “… souple dans son rendu de texte, le Bozzini, fait ressortir un lyrisme personel… On va aller le revoir en concert pour partager avec lui le mûrissement qu’il apportera à cet art.”
    • Borås Tidning (Sweden), December 12, 2003
      “Here we have a dream quartet among the string quartets of the world, the Canadian Bozzini Quartet from Montréal… The overtone rich sound that the four musicians supplied in the final number, James Tenney’s Koan, became one of my most sacred moments… The young performers Clemens Merkel and Nadia Francavilla, violin, and Stephanie and Isabelle Bozzini, viola and cello, were like a vision… Played with this etching clarity, brightness and yet cool restraint, (Beethoven’s late quartets) would be an experience we can still only dream of.”
    • Borås Tidning (Sweden), December 10, 2003
      “… with this group performing, (Koan from James Tenney) will likely feel like the heavens opening… What a gift we received with (Jurg Frey’s) second quartet… And what glowing playing!”
    • The Irish Times (Ireland), December 10, 2003
      “… visiting Bozzini Quartet, from Canada, took an approach to Glass’ Mishima that unshackled the music… [from] the Bozzini’s performance of James Tenney’s Koan, there was a lot to be learned in the journey…It was the great irony of the program that, in a festival mounted by an ensemble exploring new media, the greatest musical rewards came from string quartets…”
    • Sonoloco Record Reviews (Sweden), December 1, 2003
    • Le Devoir (Québec), September 10, 2003
      “… cette formation, tranquillement, est en train de s’imposer comme lieu ardent de la musique vivante ici. Après la qualité de ce qu’il a présenté qui n’a d’égale que celle dont ces instrumentistes jouent, les deux prochaines années au TLC s’annoncent provocatrices de tournants dans le paysage musical de qui n’a froid ni au yeux, ni aux oreilles.”
    • Ottawa Citizen (Canada), January 20, 2003
      “Any ensemble that routinely deals with the technical demands of modern music is likely to be well equipped to deliver the goods when playing Haydn or Beethoven. That’s certainly the case with the Bozzini’s, whose ensemble, balance and overall precision were of commendable order… the playing was superb.”
    • The Irish Times (Ireland), December 6, 2002
      “The Bozzini Sting Quartet from Canada offered a programme which juxtaposed Wolff’s Exercises out of Songs and Gerald Barry’s 1998. This was an inspired bit of programming, presenting the work of composers whose refractions of their chosen material produced some momentarily similar gestural outcomes. 1998 is possibly Barry’s most rigorously unyelding composition.”
    • The Observer (UK), December 1, 2002
      “With the Bozzini Quartet’s assured performance of Christian Wolff’s 1974-6 ‘Exercises Out of Songs’, a patchwork quilt of rhythmic variations on folk themes from a wide range of quasi-political sources, the Old Masters of modern music were painting patterns of a complexity and technical mastery to put their disciples to shame.”
    • The Irish Times (Ireland), November 28, 2002
      “The Bozzini String Quartet is one of those groups which gets its teeth into music. Quiet or loud, fast or slow, these Canadian musicians play with compelling engagement.”
    • Voir (Québec), May 23, 2001
      “Les chuchotements furtifs des musiciennes achèvent de construire une atmosphère empreinte de mystère… Une soirée de haut calibre…”
    • Aargauer Zeitung (Switzerland), May 9, 2001
      “The Bozzini Quartet… developed a concentrated creative energy… sound after sound a breathing, light and mysterious world full of shining details.”