Dover Quartet – The Curtis Session Review
By: Illiam Sebitz
Some of the most creative and genre pushing performing and writing is coming from the ever agile and beloved string quartet. One such quartet that is exceeding at both is the phenomenally talented Dover Quartet. The Dover Quartet skyrocketed to international stardom following a stunning sweep of the 2013 Banff Competition, at which they won every prize. The Dover Quartet is Joel Link: violin, Bryan Lee: violin, Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt: viola and Camden Shaw: cello. Named the Cleveland Quartet Award-winner, and honored with the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Dover has become one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world. With its burnished warmth, incisive rhythms, and natural phrasing, the Quartet’s distinctive sound has helped confirm its status as “the young American string quartet of the moment” (New Yorker). The Quartet serves as the quartet-in-residence for the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, Chamber Music Northwest, Artosphere, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, and Peoples’ Symphony in New York, and was recently named the first ever quartet-in-residence for the Kennedy Center. The Dover Quartet is releasing their next project entitled, The Curtis Session, which presents four movements of Dreams from life awake by composer Eric Sessler. Dreams from life awake was composed in 2012-2013 and was commissioned by the Dover Quartet to whom it is dedicated.
Opening with the powerful “Dreams from life awake: I. reverberation-exploration-flow,” the Dover Quartet’s ability to shape and command the music energy is enthralling. The modern sonorities are clear and balanced, the rhythmic figures are precise and energetic, which all come together in arching phrases that the quartet plays with an inspired synergy. Curtis is a composer that knows how to build a musical story of passion, energy and adventure. The ensemble passages have flowing dynamics, the solo lines are supported, and the counterpoint is fluid. The striking part about the Dover Quartet is the warm tone that each player projects from the instrument. The exciting part of this movement is the playfulness and well executed entrance timing of various lines.
The second movement, “tenderness-love-warmth,” is a romantic statement that is presented with a stunning balance of timbre and sound. The dynamics and breaths are very lyrical and played as one, it is simply stunning. Each member is a force all in its own, but combined, there is a special magic that the Dover Quartet commands that is eloquent and rich in depth of sound. Curtis’ harmonic and melodic relationships flow as each theme is developed. There is a balance to the music, the tension and release is always in play. This is wonderful modern classical writing and playing at its best.
Its certainly easy to hear why the Dover Quartet has garnered such immediate success. The maturity and tone in their playing, not to mention their commanding prowess is immediately evident. The Curtis Session offers a depth of writing and commanding performances by a top-notch ensemble. A highly recommended listen.
Release Date: April 24, 2019
Label: Bimperl Entertainment & Media