Release Date: November 8, 2019
Catalog #: NV6262
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
String Quartet

Within Earth

Leo Brouwer composer
Christopher Walczak composer
Vũ Nhật Tân & Vân-Ánh Võ composer
Alexandra du Bois composer

Apollo Chamber Players

On Navona Records’ WITHIN EARTH, Houston string quartet Apollo Chamber Players, described as “…infectious… intimate… provocative… fun…” (Gramophone Magazine) presents an album that demonstrates the contemporary possibilities in string music, continuing Apollo’s innovative 20×2020 project. The album contains three new multicultural commissions, as well as a contemporary work by Alexandra Du Bois.

Leo Brouwer’s Nostalgia de las Montañas is an homage to his affection for Brazil’s lush mountains and landscapes, and reflective of his love of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian dances and rhythms. The three-movement work plays to the Apollo Chamber Players’ passion for contemporary music as well as to the individual talents of the performers. The irregular metric patterns, distantly reminiscent of Brazil’s varied dance music, require an extraordinary steadiness and sense of rhythm, which is demonstrated impeccably. Matthew Dudzik’s cello part impressively keeps the rest of the music in line.

But also the viola, played by Whitney Bullock, gets its share of glory: in Christopher Walczak’s Four Dreams, it is the middle voice that ties the three-movement quartet together, this time thematically. Remarkably, during the entire album, it is almost impossible to differentiate between the first and second violin: both Anabel Ramirez Detrick and Matthew J. Detrick, respectively, play with great empathy to both the music and their fellow quartet members.

Mây [Cloud] by Vũ Nhât Tân and Vanessa Võ (the latter a Emmy and Grammy Award winner and Academy Award Contributor) is scored for string quartet and the Đàn bầu, a Vietnamese monochord zither. The result is ethereal, otherworldly, and like a cloud, changes constantly over the course of nearly 20 minutes, eventually fading away without a trace.

The final track, the album’s namesake Within Earth, Wood Grows by Alexandra du Bois is the musical interpretation of a line in the I-Ching. Again, the Đàn bầu features prominently, and yet, this time, it is the overall team spirit that shines through, between Apollo and the guest ensembles WindSync, Kinetic and Loop38. Indubitably, it is the same spirit of unity which lends the Apollo Chamber Players their emotionally charged, homogenous sound, and the same spirit which led them to commission the contemporary works presented here.


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Artist Information

Apollo Chamber Players


Houston TX based Apollo Chamber Players “performs with rhythmic flair and virtuosity” (The Strad) and has “found fruitful territory” (Houston Chronicle) through innovative, globally-inspired programming and multicultural new music commissions. Winner of Chamber Music America’s prestigious Residency Partnership award, the quartet has performed for sold-out audiences at Carnegie Hall, and it holds the distinction of being the first American chamber ensemble to record and perform in Cuba since 1960. Apollo is featured frequently on American Public Media’s nationally-syndicated program Performance Today.