Jupiter Quartet and Jasper Quartet Announce New Collaborative Album
Featuring a World Premiere Recording by Dan Visconti Plus Music by Felix Mendelssohn and Osvaldo Golijov
Release Date: February 5, 2021 | Marquis Classics
New York, NY – The Jupiter and Jasper String Quartets announce the February 5, 2021 release of a collaborative album on Marquis Classics, produced by Grammy-winner Judith Sherman. This new release features the world premiere recording of Dan Visconti’s Eternal Breath (2011); Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat, Op. 20 (1825); and Osvaldo Golijov’s Last Round (1996). Visconti’s Eternal Breath was commissioned by family of members of the Jasper and Jupiter Quartets, and targets the album’s underlying theme of friendship, family, and joy. The Jupiter and Jasper quartets celebrate decades of deep connections that go beyond simply enjoying playing music together.
Jupiter violist Liz Freivogel explains, “There is a special kind of communion when two quartets meet, and this recording is the product of a particularly profound relationship. The Jasper and Jupiter quartets are brought together by many dimensions of connection. There are siblings—J Freivogel from the Jaspers is the younger brother of Jupiter members Meg and Liz Freivogel; spouses— Rachel Henderson Freivogel and J are married in the Jaspers, and Daniel McDonough and Meg are married in the Jupiters; and longtime friends—Nelson Lee and Karen Kim were apartment mates while they were college students in Boston, and both they and Sam Quintal are enduring friends and colleagues of all of the quartets’ members, with relationships stretching back two decades. All this is to say that making this recording was a true pleasure—a chance to renew all of these bonds and enjoy exploring the music together.”
Dan Visconti’s hauntingly beautiful Eternal Breath was commissioned by Bill and Margie Freivogel (parents of J, Meg, Liz, and older brother Ben) on the occasion of their 40th wedding anniversary, in 2011. The Freivogels envisioned a work that would involve their four children (who all grew up playing string quartets together), but also wanted to include their children’s spouses, three of whom are professional musicians.
Visconti describes the work’s concept: “Eternal Breath is based on a simple ‘breathing’ phrase, which becomes longer and more elaborate as the expanding melody is passed around the entire ensemble. The idea of the breath of life passed from one generation to the next, as well as the expansion of the family through marriage inspired the development of the initial, chant-like material. Accompanied by a drone which marks the rise and fall of each musical “breath”, the melody moves through a reverberant and glowing atmosphere until everyone joins in playing the same overlapping phrase, inflected with their own individuality.”
Osvaldo Golijov’s striking Last Round (1996) is a tribute to the great Argentinian composer and musician, Astor Piazzolla. The quartets are joined here by bassist Michael Cameron. The nonet is in two parts, the first filled with a frenetic and crackling energy. Last Round is a reference to a short story about boxing by Julio Cortázar, and represents Golijov’s vision of Piazzolla’s spirit getting to “fight one more time.” By contrast, he second section is full of reflection and slow, suspended lyricism. Piazzolla often played the bandoneón, an instrument similar to the accordion and one considered essential to the tango. Golijov uses this as an underlying structural theme, as he says: “The piece is conceived as an idealized bandoneón. The first movement represents the act of a violent compression of the instrument and the second a final, seemingly endless opening sigh.”
Felix Mendelssohn’s String Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (1826) is famously joyful. Mendelssohn was raised in a family that valued music and the arts, and both he and his talented sister Fanny were brought up in an atmosphere that encouraged their musical pursuits from an early age. This makes it no less stunning that he was able to write such an intricate masterpiece at the age of sixteen. Instead of treating the two quartets as separate entities, Mendelssohn weaves all kinds of deft and subtle conversations among the eight musicians, in every possible combination.
Mendelssohn, Visconti, and Golijov | Jupiter String Quartet and Jasper String Quartet
Marquis Classics | Release Date: February 5, 2021
Felix Mendelssohn: Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 32:09
- I. Allegro moderato ma con fuoco 14:26
- II. Andante 7:03
- III. Scherzo: Allegro leggierissimo 4:34
- IV. Presto 6:06
- Dan Visconti:Eternal Breath 10:52
Osvaldo Golijov: Last Round 11:45
- I. Last Round: Movido, urgente 6:01
- II. Muertes del Angel 5:44
About the Jupiter Quartet: The Jupiter String Quartet is a particularly intimate group, consisting of violinists Nelson Lee and Meg Freivogel, violist Liz Freivogel (Meg’s older sister), and cellist Daniel McDonough (Meg’s husband, Liz’s brother-in-law). Now enjoying their 19th year together, this tight-knit ensemble is firmly established as an important voice in the world of chamber music.
The quartet has performed in some of the world’s finest halls, including New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall, Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and Library of Congress, Austria’s Esterhazy Palace, and Seoul’s Sejong Chamber Hall. Their major music festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival and School, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Rockport Music Festival, Music at Menlo, the Seoul Spring Festival, and many others. In addition to their performing career, they have been artists-in-residence at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana since 2012, where they maintain private studios and direct the chamber music program.
Their chamber music honors and awards include the grand prizes in the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; the Young Concert Artists International auditions in New York City; the Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America; an Avery Fisher Career Grant; and a grant from the Fromm Foundation. From 2007-2010, they were in residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Two.
The quartet’s recent album, Metamorphosis (Marquis Classics, 2020), features Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 131 and Ligeti’s Quartet No. 1 “Métamorphoses nocturnes.” The quartet’s discography also includes numerous recordings on labels including Azica Records and Deutsche Grammophon.
The Jupiter Quartet remains strongly committed to making music during these challenging times. In July 2020, the Jupiter Quartet gave the world premiere of Michi Wiancko’s To Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores, which was commissioned for the ensemble and presented via livestream by Bay Chamber Concerts. Other recent and upcoming livestream concerts include performances presented by Bowdoin International Music Festival, Asheville Chamber Music Series, and Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music, as well as virtual residencies with the University of Iowa and Middlebury College.
The quartet chose its name because Jupiter was the most prominent planet in the night sky at the time of its formation and the astrological symbol for Jupiter resembles the number four.
For more information, visit www.jupiterquartet.com.
About the Jasper Quartet: Recipient of Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award, Philadelphia’s Jasper String Quartet is the Professional Quartet-in-Residence at Temple University’s Center for Gifted Young Musicians and the Founder and Artistic Director of Jasper Chamber Concerts.
They have been hailed as “sonically delightful and expressively compelling,” (The Strad) and their recent recording of music by Aaron Jay Kernis and Claude Debussy was described by Gramophone as “flawless in ensemble and intonation, expressively assured and beautifully balanced.” The New York Times named their album Unbound as one of the 25 Best Classical Recordings of 2017.
The Quartet’s recent commissions include works by Patrick Castillo and Reinaldo Moya, as well as 4 Seasons | 4 Composers, a work bringing the brilliant muse of the seasons to the string quartet genre and comprising new works by Lera Auerbach, Christopher Theofanidis, Akira Nishimura, and Joan Tower.
The Jasper Quartet is passionate about connecting with audiences beyond the concert hall and has performed hundreds of outreach programs in schools and community centers. The Quartet received a Residency Partnership grant from Chamber Music America for the 2020-21 season and has received numerous Picasso Project grants from Public Citizens for Children and Youth to support its ongoing work with public schools in Philadelphia.
In the summer of 2021, the Quartet will teach on the faculty of the Saint Paul Chamber Music Institute and Credo, and will also direct the first High School String Quartet Seminar at the Brevard Music Center. The Jasper Quartet is Featured Artist-in-Residence at Swarthmore College for the 2020-22 academic years.
Formed at Oberlin Conservatory, the Jasper Quartet launched their professional career in 2006 as Rice University’s Graduate Quartet-in-Residence. In 2008, the Quartet continued its training with the Tokyo String Quartet as Yale University’s Graduate Quartet-in-Residence. That year, they won the Grand Prize and the Audience Prize in the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, the Grand Prize at the Coleman Competition, First Prize at Chamber Music Yellow Springs, and the Silver Medal at the 2008 and 2009 Fischoff Chamber Music Competitions.
In 2010, the Quartet joined the roster of Astral Artists and was the 2010-12 Ensemble-in-Residence at Oberlin Conservatory. From 2009-2011, the Jaspers were the Ernst C. Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and Arts (Katonah, NY).
The Jasper String Quartet is named after Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. For more information, please visit www.jasperquartet.com.
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