SPEKTRAL QUARTET: SERIOUS BUSINESS by Doyle Armbrust

THIS ALBUM IS NOT FUNNY

More accurately, playing this album will not induce the brand of gut-busting, teary-eyed revelry that an episode of Chappelle’s Show or a YouTube clip of Anna Karkowska’s vibrato will. It is funny like the idea of a Rothko turning the stomachs of well-heeled gluttons at the Four Seasons is funny, or how anything Andy Kaufman ever suited up for is funny. It might be a little uncomfortable, rings clear in its truth, and sometimes reveals itself gradually.

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Spektral Quartet: From This Point Forward by Doyle Armbrust

FROM THIS POINT FORWARD

With eyes closed, chin tilting toward the peeling paint on the ceiling, he whips his hands outward with a velocity suggesting the presence of an adversary eager to out-draw him. The bandoneon surges to life, its bellows gasping in a lungful of air like a man nearly drowned. He careens between tightly-coiled chord clusters before shooting a nod to the string quartet, and all five hurtle forward in a taut rhythmic unison. 

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Spektral Quartet: Chambers by Doyle Armbrust

INTO THE CHAMBER

As you take your seat, a chilled glass frosting your fingertips, you notice first that these chairs form a tight circle around the four stands at the center. Instruments are shouldered and the music unfurls. You are in the chamber with Spektral Quartet. It is a place of great intimacy, where eye contact between musician and listener is inevitable. The breath of the players is audible, their furtive exchange of smiles and smirks, unconcealed. The composer is, undoubtedly, sitting nearby. It is an inviting place, a shared space where sound is immersive. 

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Rebekah Heller: 100 Names by Doyle Armbrust

100 Names – Rebekah Heller

Watching Rebekah Heller dominate a stage and transfix an audience, it comes as no surprise that new vehicles for her virtuosity would be swiftly exhausted. Rebekah is not simply an instrumentalist. She is a red-blooded performer. There is an audacity in her approach to the bassoon that finds a parallel in a project as brazen as constructing a new wing on the bassoon library. This is not a single commission sandwiched into a recital, but five compositional roundhouse kicks carving out real estate in the new music canon.

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