Icarus – and other music by Elena Ruehr
1st April 2022
“exemplary performances, captured in fine sound … Recommended.” – Gramophone
“These string quartets, suffused with movement, visual imagery and the composer’s gift for storytelling, embody the compelling qualities of Ruehr’s music: “stunning… beautifully lighted by a canny instinct for knowing when and how to vary key, timbre, and harmony” – The Boston Globe
Composer Elena Ruehr adds to her extensive discography with Icarus, an album of chamber music infused with hints of history, legendary literature and close collaborations with a multitude of musical colleagues. The repertoire revolves around the string quartet, a genre that generated great acclaim for Elena’s Six String Quartets (AV2379).
Elena’s String Quartet No. 7: A Thousand Cranes, evokes experiences and resilience of children in wartime, including the internment of Japanese in American camps, and her own father’s escape from Nazi Germany. Her playful Insect Dances: Suite for String Quartet No. 8 – “written for listeners of all ages” – finds a diverse family of bugs engaged in an impish dinner party. Inspired by T. S. Eliot, The Worlds Revolve, for piano and string quartet, conjures elements both ancient and prescient. The title track, Icarus for clarinet and string quartet, centres on the Greek mythological character’s excitement as he builds his wings of wax and dares to fly, rather than his dark demise as he flies too close to the sun.
Throughout, history elides with the present day, and Elena’s sumptuous and evocative compositional voice shines through.
ELENA RUEHR (b.1963)
1. String Quartet No. 7: A Thousand Cranes (2019) (14:04)
2. Icarus for clarinet and string quartet (2018) (11:38)
The Worlds Revolve for piano and string quartet (2016)
3. I. The Worlds revolve (3:56)
4. II. Like Ancient Women (3:13)
5. III. Gathering Fuel (4:38)
6. IV. In Vacant Lots (7:25)
Insect Dances: Suite for String Quartet No. 8 (2020)
7. I. Spider Swing (2:45)
8. II. Dragonfly Flit (2:15)
9. III. Wasp Stomp (2:29)
10. IV. Bumblebee Boogie-Woogie (2:51)
11. V. Lady Bug Waltz (1:51)
12. VI. Grasshopper Polka (2:19)
Delgani String Quartet with guest second violin Tom Stone (1)
Jon Manasse, clarinet; Borromeo String Quartet (2)
Donald Berman, piano; Borromeo String Quartet (3–6)
Arneis Quartet (7–12)
This recording was made possible with support from the MIT SHASS Research Fund.
Recorded: 3, 4 September (3–6), 5, 6 September (2) 2019, 22, 23 May 2021 (7–12), WGBH Boston; 28, 29 April 2021, the Wildish Theater, Springfield, Oregon (1)
Recording Producer: Cecily Ward
Recording Engineers: Billy Barnett (1); Antonio Oliart (2–12)
Mastering Engineer: Mark Willsher
Publishers: E.C. Schirmer Music Co. (1, 3–6); Copyright Control (2, 7–12)