Since 1999, Quatuor Bozzini has been an original voice in new, experimental and classical music. Their skew is radically contemporary, propelling the hyper-creative Montréal scene, and beyond. Not content to parlay received wisdom, the quartet cultivates an ethos of risk-taking, and boldly venture off the beaten track. Quatuor Bozzini stands out with their “extraordinary playing.” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker). With rigorous qualitative criteria, they have nurtured a vastly diverse repertoire, unbiased by the currents of fashion. This has led to close to two hundred commissioned pieces, as well as over three hundred premiered works. A Quatuor Bozzini concert is an intensely shared experience, with meticulous and sensuous attention to detail.
Praised by its “intense musicality and immense sensitivity” (Musicworks, Canada), Quatuor Bozzini was qualified in the Bandcamp Daily as “one of the most daring string quartets of the entire world.” The group presents an annual concert series in Montréal and also tours extensively in Canada, the US, South America and Europe. Notable festivals and venues include MärzMusik (Berlin), Ultima (Oslo), Huddersfield (UK), Klangspuren (Austria), Tsuda Hall (Tokyo), Musiekgebouw (Amsterdam), November Music (Netherlands), Présences (France), Kortrijk (Belgium), TimeSpans (NYC), Porgy&Bess (Vienna) and Other Minds (San Francisco). To ensure continual development in their art, the quartet’s musical laboratories, the Composer’s Kitchen, Performer’s Kitchen and Bozzini Lab, work to mentor and support new generations of composers and performers. The quartet runs its own recording label, Collection QB, and has issued critically acclaimed albums, many of which have become reference recordings in the discipline. They also have issued albums with Edition Wandelweiser, Another Timbre, Wergo-Deutscher Musikrat, Centrediscs and ATMA Classique.
In 2018, Quatuor Bozzini was awarded the “Performer of the Year” Opus Prize by the Conseil québécois de la musique. Finalist to the 28th Grand Prix (Conseil des arts de Montréal, 2012), Quatuor Bozzini is also the recipient of three Opus Prizes “International Outreach” (2007), “Contemporary Disc of the Year” (2004), and “Discovery of the Year” (2001) as well as the Étoile-Galaxie Prize from Radio-Canada (2001), the Förderpreis Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung (2007), the German Record Critics Prize for Arbor Vitae (2009) and the 2014 Friends of Canadian Music Award.
[source: www.quatuorbozzini.ca] [iv-18]
Montréal (Québec), 1999
- Performer (string quartet)
On the web
Huddersfield Contemporary Records / HCR 19 / 2018
In the press
“The British may not understand music but they absolutely love the sound it makes.” So quipped Thomas Beecham, and he certainly put his finger on something. For while the conductor and one-time pillar of the British musical establishment was no friend of the musical avant-garde, one of its guiding principles has none the less been to liberate the sound music makes from the various kinds of ’understandings’ with which it has been reined in.
It should be no surprise, on Beecham’s account, to find that the British play host to one of the best-loved avant-garde music festivals, where musicians from all over the world come each November to witness the latest fruits of musical experimentation in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. That said, with the festival reaching its 30th anniversary, this year’s event had a distinctly retrospective flavour to it, with the closing event consisting of a modified recreation of a John Cage concert organised in 1958 by the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.
The original concert was a riot, the musicians protesting as loudly as the audience against the minute unpredictability of the Concert for Piano and Orchestra, an hour-long work in which the pianist struggles through 60 pages containing 84 different kinds of notation. The Huddersfield recreation, masterfully handled by Philip Thomas and the Apartment House group, was an altogether tamer affair, a reminder that much of Cage’s output is, while still fresh, classic primarily in the documentary sense of that term.
The first part of the concert, though, revealed Cage at his lasting best — in particular the Webernesque miniatures of 1934’s Six Short Inventions and 1943’s muted She is Asleep — and the second part departed from the original by presenting six new compositions. Witty tributes from Alvin Curran and Philip Corner framed offerings from younger composers — short pieces by Markus Trunk and Claudia Molitor confirming that Cage’s musical influence remains a powerful force.
Stockhausen was also well served during the festival, particularly by the mesmerising talents of the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, who performed his 1968 work Stimmung. Performers of Stockhausen must be accomplished acolytes as well as musicians, and witnessing the weird sounds and occult antics required by ’the master’ in performance can yield the impression of a musical L Ron Hubbard, perpetrator of an inconceivably vast aesthetic con trick. Stimmung consists of six voices passing around intricately worked-through motifs, interrupted by occasional ejaculations spoken in various languages. “C’est complètement nul!” one of them shouts, some way in, seemingly inviting the obvious affirmative response. But in fact the piece both anticipates and quickly absorbs any attentive audience’s responses, literally ’reattuning’ them to their environment.
The great discovery of the festival for me was James Tenney, a theorist and composer who worked with both Stockhausen and Cage. Before he died in 2006, Tenney amassed a significant and still relatively untapped body of extremely concentrated work, unfolded in a series of three concerts by the enterprising and gifted Canadian string quartet Quatuor Bozzini. Though diverse in terms of the techniques employed and soundworlds explored, Tenney’s œuvre is unified by its single-minded investigation of the listening experience. Especially memorable was Koan, a work in which five melodic lines move steadily towards and away from each other by microtonal degrees. There’s nothing to ’get’, no complex puzzle to solve, simply blissful sounds sliding into and out of existence, like patches of forest floor illuminated fleetingly by the sun’s slow arc above the canopy.
Two further highlights included the Piano Baschet, a visually and aurally arresting exploded piano mechanism fitted with pyramidal cones which catch the eye as well as sustain and alter the vibrations of the instrument. Of three newly composed works for the object, reconstructed by Pierre Malbos, only Pierre Alexandre Tremblay’s imaginative evocation of the casting of bells seemed to make full use of the instrument’s oddly restricted sonic capabilities. Another was Dutch composer Peter Adriaansz’s Prana, which uses electric-magnetic bows to turn a piano and three guitars into powerful sustaining instruments, generating slow-moving progressions, rich in overtones, to unfold a minutely constructed eternity.
Fundamentally static, devoid of the grand emotions associated with the classical repertoire, such music prompts many to ask what the point of it is. After a concert of Tenney and Stockhausen, when you emerge into the dull, cacophonous roar of the city, you may find that it suddenly yields a gentle, secret harmony. At this point, though your question may remain unanswered, you’ll certainly have forgotten why you asked it.
The eighth annual Suoni per il Popolo spanned a month and covered a huge range of musical genres. Over 50 concerts took place in two venues located across the street from each other in Montréal’s artist-filled Mile End neighborhood. It gave fans of free jazz, experimental rock, avant folk, contemporary classical, electronic, and improvised musics plenty to get excited about. Add a workshop with the Sun Ra Arkestra, street performance art, DJ sets and an outdoor day of music and children’s activities, and you have an unbeatably eclectic event. […]
The festival kicked off with two shows that exemplified what it does best. The more intimate Casa del Popolo was the venue for a free jazz blowout with saxophonist Glen Hall, bassist Dominic Duval, and drummer William Hooker, […] Hall keeps a relatively low profile, despite having studied with Ligeti and Kagel and played with the likes of Roswell Rudd, Jimmy Giuffre and John Scofield. The compositions in the first set paid tribute to some of his influences, while the second set shifted to freely improvised territory, with Montréal’s young trumpet luminary Gordon Allen sitting in to add blistering sound blasts and overblowing to the mix. At times this resembled the more noise-based music Hooker has made with Thurston Moore. […]
Another evening featured the debut of All Up In There, a trio of Allen, Michel F Côté on percussion, and Frank Martel on Theremin. Martel often played the theremin as if it were a stand-up bass, while Côté, when not playing kit, obtained a surprising variety of sounds from winging two mics around Pignose amps. The overall effect was more like a group of virtuosic Martians than a standard jazz trio. […]
Christof Migone’s performance piece Hit Parade took place outside on a busy Saint-Laurent Boulevard, taking over the sidewalk and one lane of traffic. Eleven people lay face down on the pavement, each pounding a microphone into the ground exactly one thousand times, at varying speeds. The sound of a giant asynchronous metronome prompted ironic thoughts in this listener about the usual meaning of the phrase “hit music,” and about pounding the pavement as a metaphor for life. […]
The Quatuor Bozzini, a string quartet dedicated to contemporary music, performed a selection of pieces by experienced improviser/composers. Malcolm Goldstein’s four-part structured improvisation A New Song of Many Faces for in These Times (2002) was by turns gentle and harsh, agitated and introspective, as melodic and rhythmic fragments were passed from one member of the quartet to another. Goldstein himself performed Hardscrabble Songs, a 13-minute solo piece for voice and violin. Jean Derome and Joane Hétu’s Le mensonge et l’identité (“Lies and Identity”) is an hour-long tour de force with a strong socio-political component. The Bozzinis’ spoken contributions (both live and on prerecorded tape) ranged from pithy quotes from philosophers and politicians to personal anecdotes. The music deliberately unraveled into chaos, the players moving music stands and chairs about the room in response to unsynchronized metronomes, tipping over stands as the scores on them were completed. […]