Quadrants Vol. 4

Judith Lang Zaimont composer
Sami Seif composer
John Summers composer
Jacob E. Goodman composer
Daniel Gil composer

The Harlem Quartet
Elless Quartet
Sirius Quartet
Benda Quartet
Invoke

Release Date: January 13, 2023
Catalog #: NV6483
Format: Digital
21st Century
Chamber
Vocal Music
String Quartet
Voice

QUADRANTS VOL. 4 comes as the fourth installment of Navona’s acclaimed series of string quartet recordings by contemporary composers. This time, a variety of ensembles perform a selection of pieces by Daniel Gil, Jacob E. Goodman, John Summers, Sami Seif, and Judith Lang Zaimont. Like its predecessors, QUADRANTS VOL. 4 presents musical creations that are highly structured, thoroughly conceptualized and profoundly cerebral, drawing upon subject matters as diverse as Kabbalistic philosophy, English urban poetry, and Arabic cultural identity, among others. Often the result of years-long toil, these compositions are by no means easy to perform – but each ensemble masterfully succeeds with virtuosic panache.

Listen

Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 String Quartet, The Figure: I. In Shadow Judith Lang Zaimont Harlem Quartet | Ilmar Gavilán, Melissa White - violin; Juan-Miguel Hernandez, viola; Paul Wiancko, cello 8:29
02 String Quartet, The Figure: II. In Bright Light Judith Lang Zaimont Harlem Quartet | Ilmar Gavilán, Melissa White - violin; Juan-Miguel Hernandez, viola; Paul Wiancko, cello 8:35
03 Orientalism Sami Seif Elless Quartet | Megan Lin, Emera Gurath - violin; Marcus Stevenson, viola; Cecelia Swanson, cello 15:59
04 String Quartet: I. Moderato con Vito John Summers Sirius Quartet | Fung Chern Hwei, Gregor Huebner - violin; Ron Lawrence, viola; Jeremy Harman, cello 10:03
05 String Quartet: II. Moderato John Summers Sirius Quartet | Fung Chern Hwei, Gregor Huebner - violin; Ron Lawrence, viola; Jeremy Harman, cello 3:39
06 String Quartet: III. Andantino con Vivo John Summers Sirius Quartet | Fung Chern Hwei, Gregor Huebner - violin; Ron Lawrence, viola; Jeremy Harman, cello 8:25
07 String Quartet No. 1: I. Allegro Jacob E. Goodman Benda Quartet | Jakub Čerrnohorský, Petr Grabovský - violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 2:31
08 String Quartet No. 1: II. Adagio Jacob E. Goodman Benda Quartet | Jakub Čerrnohorský, Petr Grabovský - violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 3:27
09 String Quartet No. 1: III. Rondo Jacob E. Goodman Benda Quartet | Jakub Čerrnohorský, Petr Grabovský - violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 2:26
10 Peacemaking in Three Movements: I. The Steps of Jabal Mousa Daniel Gil Invoke | Nick Montopoli, violin, banjo, voice; Zach Matteson, violin, voice; Geoff Manyin, cello, voice; Karl Mitze viola, mandolin, voice 6:01
11 Peacemaking in Three Movements: II. A Tower that Floats in the Air Daniel Gil Invoke | Nick Montopoli, violin, banjo, voice; Zach Matteson, violin, voice; Geoff Manyin, cello, voice; Karl Mitze viola, mandolin, voice 4:47
12 Peacemaking in Three Movements: III. The King, David Daniel Gil Invoke | Nick Montopoli, violin, banjo, voice; Zach Matteson, violin, voice; Geoff Manyin, cello, voice; Karl Mitze viola, mandolin, voice 4:48

String Quartet The Figure
Recorded on December 13-16, 2010 at the Recital Hall of The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, State University of New York in Purchase NY 
Producer & Engineer Adam Abeshouse
Assistant Engineer Andy Ryder
Editing Adam Abeshouse, Judith Zaimont, Paul Cox
Publisher Subito Music Corp.

Orientalism
Recorded December 13, 2021 at Mixon Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland OH
Producer Maxwell Porter
Engineer Naomi Columna

String Quartet
I. Moderato con Vito
Recorded September 25, 2019 at Futura Productions in Roslindale MA
Producer Brad Michel
Engineer John Weston
Assistant Engineer Jacob Steingart
Editing & Mixing Brad Michel

II. Moderato & III. Andantino con Vivo
Recorded June 10, 2022 at Oktaven Audio in Mount Vernon NY
Producer Ryan Streber
Engineer Edwin Huet
Editing & Mixing Melanie Montgomery

String Quartet No. 1
Recorded November 18, 2021 at Dům Kultury města Ostravy  (The Ostrava House of Culture) in Ostrava, Czech Republic
Producer Jan Košulič
Engineer Aleš Dvořák
Production Manager Jean Noël Attard
Production Assistant Martina Watzková
Editing & Mixing Lucas Paquette

Peacemaking In Three Movements
Recorded August 7th, 2021 at College Chapel Hall, Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier VT
Producer & Engineer Colin McCaffery
Engineer Reed Robbins, JohnPaul Beattie

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Ivana Hauser, Miran Vaupotić, Danielle Sullivan

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Production Director Levi Brown
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Production Assistant Martina Watzková

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming, Morgan Hauber
Publicity Brett Iannucci

Artist Information

Judith Lang Zaimont

Composer

Judith Lang Zaimont's music is often cited for its immediacy, emotion and drama. Her distinctive style-strongly expressive, sensitive to musical color and rhythmically vital-is evident in even her early music. The New York Times described it as "exquisitely crafted, vividly characterized and wholly appealing," and perhaps for these reasons her music has consistently drawn performers from around the globe and several of her works have achieved repertoire status.

Sami Seif

Composer

Sami Seif is a Lebanese composer and music theorist. His music is inspired by the aesthetics, philosophies, paradigms, and poetry of his Middle-Eastern heritage. His work has been described as “very tasteful and flavorful” with “beautiful, sensitive writing!” (Webster University Young Composers Competition).

John Summers

Composer

Composer John Summers began his professional composing career in 1973, writing music and stage pieces for Pageant Theatre, a touring company traveling around both primary and high schools, visiting virtually every town in the states of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. Production and scenarios ranged from original skits and traditional stories set to music and dance for primary schools, to setting curriculum poetry (Shakespeare, Eliot, McGough, etc) to music, and performing curriculum plays (classical, contemporary and original). This was a full time position for five years.

Jacob E. Goodman

Composer

Jacob E. Goodman (November 15, 1933 – October 10, 2021), founder of the New York Composers Circle in 2002, was Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the City College of New York. He studied musical composition with, among others, Ezra Laderman and David Del Tredici. His works have been performed in Delaware, Nebraska, Toronto, Buenos Aires, and Tokyo, and various venues in both New York City and the Bay Area of California. Recent compositions include a set of variations for piano trio; three song cycles; a set of variations for orchestra on a Beethoven theme; a quintet for flute, piano, and strings; a set of intermezzi for piano; a prelude for saxophone and piano; two sets of variations for piano; a duo for cello and piano; a string quartet; and three bagatelles for piano; as well as the score for the documentary film Meet Me at the Canoe, produced for the American Museum of Natural History by his daughter Naomi Goodman-Broom.

Daniel Gil

Composer

Daniel Gil is a composer, ethnomusicologist, producer, orchestrator, and performer. He is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and holds an MFA in composition from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Gil’s music has been described as “poignant and majestic” (Boston Globe), “beautiful and original” (Jerusalem Post), and that he “sounds like Greg Lake and Pete Townshend combined” (The Big Takeover) when singing and playing guitar with his electro-progressive band Raibard.

Sirius Quartet

Ensemble

Internationally acclaimed veterans of contemporary music, Sirius Quartet combines exhilarating repertoire with unequalled improvisational fire. These conservatory-trained performer-composers shine with precision, soul and a raw energy rarely witnessed on stage, championing a forward-thinking, genre-defying approach that makes labels like 'New Music' sound tame.

Benda Quartet

Ensemble

Since the Benda Quartet began performing in 2012 they have achieved a wide variety of musical successes and established themselves among highly respected Czech ensembles. Their first significant landmark was the concert debut they performed at the 60th Jubilee of the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra in Ostrava in April 2014. The concert was recorded by Czech Radio and garnered a huge audience acclaim. Since then has the collaboration with the studio of Czech Radio continued on regular basis and resulted in a number of publicly appreciated recordings. The Benda Quartet have worked intensively together with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra and artist management agency Janáčkův Máj on numerous chamber music and educational projects.

The Harlem Quartet

Harlem Quartet has been praised for its “panache” in The New York Times and hailed in the Cincinnati Enquirer for “bringing a new attitude to classical music, one that is fresh, bracing and intelligent.” It has also won plaudits from such veteran musicians as Jazz at Lincoln Center woodwind virtuoso Ted Nash, who declared in a 2018 Playbill article, “Harlem Quartet is one of the greatest string quartets I have ever heard. They can play anything.” Since its public debut at Carnegie Hall in 2006, the ensemble has thrilled audiences and students throughout the U.S. as well as in the U.K., France, Belgium, Brazil, Panama, Canada, Venezuela, Japan, Ethiopia, and South Africa.

The quartet’s mission is to advance diversity in classical music, engaging young and new audiences through the discovery and presentation of varied repertoire that includes works by composers of color. Passion for this work has made the quartet a leading ensemble in both educational and community engagement activities. It began a multi-year residency with London’s Royal College of Music in 2018. From 2015 to 2020 it led an annual workshop at Music Mountain in Falls Village, Connecticut. In 2021 it began two other institutional affiliations: as the inaugural Grissom Artist in Residence at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and as Quartet in Residence at Montclair State University in northeastern New Jersey.

Highlights of Harlem Quartet’s 2021-22 season include a concert at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, with pianist Joseph Kalichstein; a collaboration with the Catalyst Quartet at the Chamber Music Society of Detroit; engagements with Carnegie Hall Citywide and the Morgan Library in New York City, as well as chamber music societies in Little Rock, Raleigh, Lewes (DE) and Syracuse; and a partnership with Cuban pianist-composer Aldo López-Gavilán in concerts at the Phoenix Chamber Music Society, the Ensemble Music Society of Indianapolis, Nebraska’s Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music, and Virginia’s Shenandoah Conservatory.

In 2012, Harlem Quartet and the Chicago Sinfonietta led by Music Director Mei-Ann Chen premiered Randall Craig Fleischer’s arrangement for string quartet and orchestra of music from West Side Story, and together they recorded that arrangement for Cedille Records along with works for string quartet and orchestra by Michael Abels and Benjamin Lees. The quartet collaborated with jazz pianist Chick Corea in a Grammy-winning Hot House album that included Corea’s “Mozart Goes Dancing,” which won a separate Grammy as Best Instrumental Composition. Harlem Quartet’s latest album, the July 2020 release Cross Pollination, features works by Debussy, William Bolcom, Dizzy Gillespie, and Guido López-Gavilán.

Harlem Quartet was founded in 2006 by the Sphinx Organization, a national nonprofit dedicated to building diversity in classical music and providing access to music education in underserved communities. It is represented worldwide by New York-based Sciolino Artist Management.

Elless Quartet

The Elless Quartet was formed in 2019 at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Comprised of members Ju-Eun Lee (violin), Megan Lin (violin), Marcus Stevenson (viola) and Cecelia Swanson (cello), the ensemble works with Si-Yan Li, Todd Phillips, and Philip Setzer, and have also performed in masterclasses for the Emerson, Orion, Dover, and Miami Quartets. The members have also participated in various music festivals, including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, Sarasota Music Festival, and Saint Paul Chamber Music Institute. Hailing from different parts of the world, the quartet strives to bring diversity into the classical music world.

Invoke

Described as “…not classical but not, not classical – Invoke is beautiful, adventurous, American and immediately engaging” (David Srebnik, SiriusXM Classical Producer), Invoke strives to successfully dodge even the most valiant attempts at genre classification. The multi-instrumental quartet’s other not-nots encompass traditions from across America, including bluegrass, Appalachian fiddle tunes, jazz, and minimalism. Fueled by their passion for storytelling, Invoke weaves all of these styles together to form a unique contemporary repertoire, featuring original works composed by and for the group. 

2018 was a banner year for the band, winning First Prize at the M-Prize International Chamber Arts competition in Ann Arbor MI (Open Category), as well as First Prize in the Coltman Competition in Austin TX, and most recently, the Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition in New York, where they were named “New Music/New Places” Ensemble. 

Invoke was the Young Professional String Quartet in Residence at the University of Texas from 2016 to 2018, and the group has previously been selected to participate in the Emerging String Quartet Program at Stanford, as Artists in Residence at Strathmore, and as the Emerging Young Artist Quartet at Interlochen. Invoke has shared the stage with some of the most acclaimed ensembles in the country, ranging from the Miró and Ensō Quartets to the U.S. Army Field Band, and has also appeared with musicians in greatly varying genres – from chamber rock powerhouse San Fermin to DC beatboxer/rapper/spoons virtuoso Christylez Bacon. 

Invoke has released three albums since 2015, beginning with Souls in the Mud, 2018’s follow-up Furious Creek, and most recently 2021’s album Fantastic Planet, an original soundtrack inspired by the 1973 animation. The quartet has also performed and recorded numerous world premieres. Invoke believes in championing diverse American voices, including their ongoing commissioning project American Postcards, which asks composers to pick a time and place in American history and tell its story through Invoke’s unique artistry.

Notes

Figure — shape or contour — is a term used in several of the arts: for instance, “figure of speech” in literature, and the human form, or just the countenance, in drawing. In music, a figure is an identifiable sequence of pitches with a characteristic rhythm. Longer than a germ or motive yet shorter than a theme, a figure takes some little time in which to be expressed, somewhere short of a human breath. And, unlike motive, the musical figure need not be worked out or varied upon its returns within a composition; it can — if the composer wishes — simply remain itself. 

Everything in String Quartet The Figure derives from its core material, originally heard in the opening measures. At the center of this figure are the work’s first two sounds: a slow chromatic two-chord unit, not dissimilar to a sigh which however brings little relief. Balancing the chords are a crisp motive of four quick notes followed by a longer one, and a forceful downward progression. All that follows explores the potential inherent in these materials. 

Titles for the two movements are drawn from the visual realm, where capturing effects of light upon form are critical to a specific rendering. In Shadow follows a loose three-part form with the outer panels being by turns dramatic and ruminative. The mid-section scurries in fast compound meters, arriving eventually in the highest registers (with players’ foot-stamps adding to the rhythmic accent). In that “shadows” can conceal or reveal, the movement is marked “With Passion.” 

There is no concealment in the companion movement, In Bright Light. Full light simultaneously makes all clear, emphasizing contrasts and edges, but also brings with it the comfort of warmth. Its opening, marked “Energetic, Angular,” contains the work’s most frontal music culminating in slashed clusters. But quickly things turn warmer, and the Figure’s components begin to balance — transmuting a linkage of the four quick notes with longer one plus the chromatic ‘sigh’ into a cantabile melody (marked “Feathery, Warm”). Lyricism and graceful passage work prevail. Also, we encounter again a mysterious evanescing snippet — dropped into the first movement just once — that here in the second finds its true home. As the lyric chapter nears conclusion, the original dramatic sensibility interrupts; but it too tapers into warmth, and the work ends with a dissipating triad in high harmonics.

Throughout the quartet each player has many solo moments. Textures are for the most part detailed and complex, and the tempo is constantly flexing — so much so, that ensemble is as critical an aspect of the work as are its technical and expressive demands. 

— Judith Lang Zaimont

Orientalism derives its name from the eponymous book by the Palestinian-American intellectual Edward Said. My interest in orientalism started with the constant disparity I felt between my experience of being an Arab, and the representations of Arabs which I saw in art, media, and what even claimed to be scientific literature. Those representations of “the Orient” had very little to do with what I know about my own background, my lived experiences, and everything that I have read in Arabic. This piece is a result of my reflections, it is a commentary as well as an artistic response to that phenomenon. 

Another interest of mine has been the passage of time, especially the passage of musical time, as opposed to chronometric time. In my quartet, the measurement of time is passed from player to player, so as to create a flowing evolution of the sense and function of time. As each player takes control of measuring time for the whole ensemble, a natural shift in the perception of time will occur for interpreters and audience alike. The passage of time thus interacts with perspective and with focus. Every player will get the chance to manifest their experience of time, resulting in four different perspectives on the flow of time. These different time-layers ultimately create a counterpoint of tempi between players. Essentially, my quartet intersects my interests in Orientalism and the passage of time — both of which are part and parcel of phenomenology, of conscious experience. 

Unlike a traditional string quartet, which seeks to blend the individual player with the quartet, my piece seeks to identify the individual in opposition to the ensemble. Just as time flows smoothly from player to player, so too do sounds bleed into each other like different colors, or different perspectives continually intruding into one another — whilst alternating with solo passages. This draws a parallel with the disconnection between the individual and the system, between my individual sense of self as an Arab in America, or a Christian from a Muslim-majority country (both of which Edward Said himself experienced), and the system and politicized representation of the Middle-East and of its peoples (often viewed as only one people). 

Orientalism received first prize at the Foundation for Modern Music’s 2021 Robert Avalon International Competition for Composers, first prize at the 2021 Suzanne Culley Senior Composition Competition, third prize in the SOCAN Foundation’s 2021 Young Composers Awards, Chamber Music Category, and honorable mention in the 2021 ASCAP Foundation’s Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, among other recognitions. Orientalism was also a winner of TEMPO Ensemble’s 14th annual call for scores in 2022. 

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to all the members of the Elless Quartet for their incredible collaboration: Megan, Emera, Marcus, and Cecelia. I am thankful to have had the privilege to work with them.

This piece began in 2017. The original impetus of the first movement was to create a dialogue between the four instruments, with each one contributing approximately the same amount of relevant material, with the result that the conversations moved freely within the parts. Apparently this plan was an irrelevant item for some critics, one of whom had promised a detailed analysis of this movement; his summation was less than subtle when his final “detailed critique” consisted of the one statement. 

“Well, I’d ditch that first chord, if I were you.” 

The second movement is in complete contrast to the first, consisting of an ostinato in the lower instruments, with the two violins interweaving over the top. 

The third movement is yet another construction, that of the more traditional approach of the declamations of the first violin being answered and supported by the other three. 

— John Summers

The string quartet by Jacob E. Goodman — his first — was written over a period of six years. Originally conceived as simply an Adagio for String Quartet and performed at a New York Composers Circle concert about six years ago, he decided that the piece would make an ideal slow movement for a full three-movement work. His move to California, and the COVID-19 pandemic, interfered with his plans; but we are happy to present, finally, the Friction Quartet performing Jacob E. Goodman’s String Quartet No. 1.

This piece expounds on three Kabbalistic ideas in three corresponding movements. It is my sincere hope that their expression herein may spark a new way to see peacemaking in our very troubled world. 

I. The Surrounding Light نور الله المحيط אור מקיף Spiritual Connection
The surrounding light is an aspect of the infinite light that is perceivable, yet equally obscure to all because of its greatness. It is infinitely greater than any one person or group can ever hope to hold and comprehend in their consciousness. The surrounding light therefore surrounds all life equally. It engenders humility and an open heart, and is the root of human connection, understanding, and oneness.

II. The Inner Light نور الله الباطني אור פנימי Cultural Understanding
The inner light corresponds directly to the amount of infinite light that an individual, or specific group is able to hold and contain in their consciousness. It is the inner light that engenders self distinction, and expression. It grants us the opportunity for understanding both ourselves and the other. 

III. The Oneness of Being وحدة الوجود אחדות Interpersonal Humility
Oneness is the end result of engaging the surrounding and inner light. It is experiencing the other as the self, and is the end goal of true peacemaking. 

In the midst and aftermath of the Holocaust, my father never stopped believing in the unique human potential for kindness and understanding. 

This composition is dedicated to my loving father, Dr. Efraim Gil of blessed memory. 

يا بيت يعقوب هلم فنسلك في نور الرب.
ﺃﺷﻌﻴﺎء 2:5

בית יעקב לכו ונלכה באור יהוה
ישעיהו 2:5

House of Jacob, let us go and move forward in the light of the eternal Lord
Isaiah 2:5

I. The Steps of Jabal Mousa
خطوات جبل موسى 
מדרגות הר משה 
A young spiritual seeker finds herself at the foot of a great mountain, and discovers the revelation of God in an unexpected friend.

II. A Tower that Floats in the Air
מגדל הפורח באויר 
برج يطفو في الهواء 
The seeker’s journey continues onwards towards a tower at the heart of the world. She begins understanding why the tower is floating in a sea of violent windswept color. 

III. The King, David 
המלך דוד الملك داود 
At the end of the journey, our seeker finds oneness in the long pursued stillness of her own mind. She is at peace. She is One with herself, her surroundings, and whomever she is with.

— Daniel S. Gil

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