Bartók, Martel

Mikrokosmos Sz 107

Quartetski Does Bartók

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Radio ›› Mikrokosmos Sz 107
1 September 2016
By Ken Waxman in The WholeNote (Canada), September 1, 2016

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“The CD confirms that the quintet can positively transform a revered composer’s supposedly unalterable work.”

Creativity may, as the aphorism says, be 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration. But finding the proper inspiration can be a challenge in itself. Like a mathematical theorem made up of various formulae, stimulus for music — especially creative music —arrives from anywhere. Consider these discs whose genesis couldn’t be more dissimilar, but whose interpretation is of uniform high quality.

Turning another page in its scorebook filled with the themes of composers from the so-called classical music cannon, Montréal-based Quartetski — now a quintet — Does Bartok, on Mikrikosmos Sz 107 (Ambiances Magnétiques AM 224 CD). It reconfigures to group improvisation piano pieces composed by Hungarian Béla Bartók (1881-1945) to synthesize musical and technical problems. Bartók, who was as attuned to Magyar folk music as his contemporary Arnold Schoenberg was to serialism, could never have imagined Quartetski’s instrumental make-up, unless he was also a futurist. The band is reedist Philippe Lauzier, guitarist Bernard Falaise, violinist Joshua Zubot, drummer Isaiah Ceccarelli and Pierre-Yves Martel, playing electric bass and synthesize. Like films whose interpretation of a literary source is radically different, but representative, Quartetski’s 25-track variant of the œuvre adding jazz, folk, rock and electronic inflections must be judged on its own. One reductionist way to approach this material is to itemize how often and quickly musical currents appear and disappear. For instance take the many transitions which are evident during the sequenced five tracks: En mode mixolydien #48, Unisson divisé #52, Mélodie en dixièmes #56, Majeur et mineur #59, Triolets #75 and Hommage à Robert Schumann #80. Near-Heavy Metal thuds and clangs struggle for space alongside pastoral reed notes and high-European string swells. Later, like a space ship from the future landing in primitive times, contemporary timbres are subsumed beneath electronic loops. Paradoxically, when the themes are more obtuse, a buoyant melody is created where rugged, Eastern European dance inferences mix up with crinkly guitar flanges. Similar schematic diagrams could be constructed for other sequences which append inferences including Hawaiian guitar-styled licks to an electric bass line reminiscent of Stax-Volt. But the key linkage appears among other tracks, Six mélodies à l’unisson, Notes pointées, #7, Mains alternées #10, Mouvement parallèle#11 and Danse hongroise #68 plus Mélodie contre double-cordes #70. Prominent among the calliope-like motifs and synthesizer smears is an arching narrative that by the end adds Prairie hints to the Magyar countryside. Quartetski’s originality is confirmed on the group-composed title track. Like the inevitability of waves hitting and receding from the shore, the performance bonds string sweeps, aviary reed whistles and an electric undertow into tremolo washes. The CD confirms that the quintet can positively transform a revered composer’s supposedly unalterable work.

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28 August 2016
By Roland Torres in SilenceAndSound (France), August 28, 2016

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“Très fortement recommandé.”

Il est assez fascinant d’observer comment certaines œuvres écrites pour des instruments en particulier, se voient revisiter et transposer différemment, subissant ainsi une relecture et une réinterprétation collant au plus près de notre époque.

A l’image du groupe belge WÖR, qui revisite le répertoire du 18e siècle avec des instruments d’aujourd’hui, Quartetski s’attaque à Mikrokosmos, œuvre pour piano du compositeur Béla Bartók composée entre 1926 et 1939, à l’aide de guitare électrique, batterie, basse, saxophone, synthétiseur, mélodica… oscillant entre musique contemporaine, electro-acoustique et impulsions jazz.

Véritable challenge, quand on sait que Mikrokosmos a été composé pour résoudre certains problèmes dans l’art de jouer du piano, les tracks proposés par Quartetski font rentrer de plain pied l’œuvre de Béla Bartók dans une autre dimension, entre fable contemporaine et musique théâtrale, où les instruments décrivent des arcs de cercle lumineux aux trajectoires rêveuses.

La grande force de Quartertski est de conserver l’esprit avant-gardiste du compositeur roumain tout en se l’appropriant, pour en livrer une vision foncièrement contemporaine, où les instruments utilisés servent et amplifient les recherches misent en œuvre sur Mikrokosmos, démultipliant les pistes pour flirter avec l’universalité de la création artistique. Un album surprenant aux pistes et propositions multiples, magnifiant l’œuvre originale pour la transporter intelligemment jusqu’à nous. Très fortement recommandé.

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19 August 2016
By Ed Pinsent in The Sound Projector (UK), August 19, 2016

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“I’m finding this a pleasant spin today”

Mikrokosmos: Quartetski Does Bartók (AM 224 CD) is a much more successful instance of the cross-fertilisation and bridge-building which I assume Nicolas Caloia is aiming at. This Montréal five-piece (confounding expectations raised by their name that they might be a four-piece) strive to reinterpret classical music in a contemporary setting, and on the evidence of this release they do it very well, producing a listenable and entertaining experience. Pierre Yves-Martel (bass, synth) and Philippe Lauzier (woodwinds) are present, along with the electric guitarist Bernard Falaise, the violinist Joshua Zubot, and the drummer Isaiah Ceccarelli. Images of their stage set make Quartetski look like a cross between a chamber ensemble and a rock group, and their music delivers precisely that — original melodies and arrangements reshuffled into accessible modernistic arrangements, with a jazzy swing feeling, dissonant noises and scrapes from the violin, loud rockist segments from the guitarist, and even free improv elements from the woodwind section. A lot of stop-starts, quick changes, and poised dynamics allowing each musician to shine; the brevity of these pieces, and the slight air of genial clunkiness in the playing, also made me think of Maher Shalal Hash Baz. I’m not at all familiar with the works of Bartók, and a purist classical buff might give a more cautious reception to this album (or even retreat from it in horror), but ignorance is bliss and I’m finding this a pleasant spin today. When Michal Libera does cultural mashups for his Bolt Label, he’s trying to get the audience to ask deep and searching questions about the meaning of things we previously took for granted; Quartetski are simpler, and they just want us to enjoy good music in a new setting, with fresh ears. If you want more of this, they “did” a Prokofiev album in 2007 for Ambiences Magnétiques. Fine work.

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1 July 2016
By Stuart Broomer in Musicworks #125 (Canada), July 1, 2016

Press Clipping

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30 April 2016
By Łukasz Komła in Nowamuzyka (Poland), April 30, 2016

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Kanadyjski zespół Quartetski jest raczej mało znany w Polsce, ale od kilku lat członkowie tej grupy interpretują na nowo dzieła różnych kompozytorów. Tym razem padło na Béla Bartóka.

Formacja powstała w 2007 roku w Montréalu z inicjatywy Pierre-Yves Martela (viola da gamba, bas elektryczny, kontrabas, syntezator, obiekty). Później dołączyli do niego tacy muzycy jak Isaiah Ceccarelli (perkusja, metalofony), Bernard Falaise (gitara elektryczna), Philippe Lauzier (klarnet basowy, saksofon sopranowy, melodyka) i Joshua Zubot (skrzypce).

Do tej pory artyści wzięli na warsztat kompozycje Igora Strawińskiego, Modesta Musorgskiego, Johna Cage’a, Tobiasa Hume’a, Erika Satiego oraz Siergieja Prokofjewa. Teraz mamy Béla Bartóka i jego monumentalne dzieło Mikrokosmos napisane w latach 1926-1939, na które złożyły się 153 fragmenty zaaranżowane na fortepian. Kanadyjczycy tworząc swoje wersje miniatur Bartóka nie korzystali z brzmienia tego instrumentu. Woleli podejść do utworów węgierskiego kompozytora w mniej standardowy sposób, czego możemy doświadczyć na płycie Mikrokosmos Sz 107: Quartetski Does Bartók.

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