The Chiara String Quartet, Jefferson Friedman: Quartets

Jayson Greene

By Jayson Greene

on 08.03.11 in Reviews

The Chiara String Quartet team up with noise pranksters Matmos to alternately perform hip young composer Jefferson Friedman’s quartets (the Chiara Quartet handles this) and to completely disassemble them (guess who). Friedman’s pieces are sturdy, old-fashioned string quartets, and I mean “old-fashioned” in the best way: they don’t fall back on facile, faux-minimalism tics, they develop moods and then explore them, they have rich and imaginative writing for the instruments involved. They earnestly probe small-scale modern human emotions — nagging doubt, creeping unease, simmering anger. To listen to them is to read a wordless novel inside your head. They could have been written at any point in the last 100 years, though, which is where Matmos comes in. What they do to the music is forensic and fascinating, and makes for a completely different listening experience.