St. Lawrence String Quartet

Sea to Sea

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The St. Lawrence String Quartet, though now resident in the San Francisco Bay Area, is Canadian in origin and selected Canadian works from among a large volume of submissions for this album marking its 20th anniversary as a group. Each piece here is in a single movement and the players' longtime advocacy of contemporary music serves the group well. The listener may find that the program gradually gains strength until the riotous finale, Elizabeth Raum's A Table at the Bushwakker (2009). Loosely serial, this work entertainingly depicts groups of individuals at the titular establishment, which the booklet notes (in English and French) helpfully inform the buyer is "one of Canada's top five brewpubs." Residents of the pub include university professors, students, a couple in love, and a girls'-night-out group. More contemplative but no less evocative is Marcus Goddard's Allaqi. The word is Inuit, meaning both a break in the clouds and an opening of some kind in human experience. Brian Current's Rounds is based on round-like imitation, while Suzanne Hébert-Tremblay's À tire-d'aile (A Flurry of Wings) draws on birdsong of the St. Lawrence River region of Quebec. The least coherent work is the opening Sepia Fragments, whose representational component and abstract patterns seem to have little to do with each other. The music is generally not tonally organized. Of most interest to those following the Canadian academic scene, this disc also contains several new works that may engage general listeners.

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