ETHEL Osh­tali: Mu­sic for String Quar­tet

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

(Az­ica) Arts pro­grams for young peo­ple may be un­der wide­spread duress, but ap­par­ently not in the Chick­a­saw Nation in Ok­la­homa, where a sum­mer arts academy pro­vides train­ing and en­cour­age­ment for com­posers ages 8 to 18. Some re­sults of the pro­gram’s sixth in­stall­ment, in 2009, are doc­u­mented on this CD of 16 string-quar­tet com­po­si­tions by 11 teenagers. (The disc’s ti­tle, Osh­tali, means “to quar­ter” in Chick­a­saw.) All are per­formed with ut­ter com­mit­ment by the bar­rier-break­ing string quar­tet Ethel, and Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate served as a com­poser-men­tor. These de­vel­op­ing com­posers don’t write in­vert­ible coun­ter­point or dou­ble fugues, but they do all have some­thing to ex­press in tones, and with the help of their mu­si­cal guides, they’ve fig­ured out how to put across their ideas co­gently. Some pieces are stronger than oth­ers, but each is an im­pres­sive achieve­ment. Why would this CD in­ter­est you as a mu­sic lover, apart from the fact that it rep­re­sents what should be go­ing on ev­ery­where? One of the prin­ci­ples these com­posers have learned is that it pays to keep things sim­ple. The pieces are short — only three ex­ceed five min­utes — and they ma­nip­u­late limited mu­si­cal ma­te­ri­als within struc­tures that are eas­ily grasped. They in­vite lis­ten­ers to fol­low the un­rolling of a com­po­si­tion in a way that will pay div­i­dends when hear­ing more com­pli­cated cre­ations — say by Bartók, who would seem to be a fa­vorite among these young com­posers. —James M. Keller

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