Among the top young string quartets now working the chamber-music circuit worldwide, Philadelphia’s award-winning Jasper String Quartet has made a habit of mixing canonical classics and freshly created fare. For its newest album, Unbound, the group opted try something novel, and to make a statement in the process. Using Judd Greenstein’s Four on the Floor as the centerpiece, the quartet – violinists J Freivogel and Sae Chonabayashi, violist Sam Quintal, and cellist Rachel Henderson Freivogel – surrounded that work with six additional pieces, all by living composers: three men and three women.
In addition to the Greenstein piece, Unbound, includes music by Caroline Shaw, Missy Mazzoli, Annie Gosfield, David Lang, Donnacha Dennehy, and Ted Hearne. The disc is due on March 17 via the audiophile label Sono Luminus in association with New Amsterdam Records – who’ve graciously allowed us to share the entire album in advance: right here, right now.
In a press statement, the Jasper players explained exactly what they’d hoped to achieve on Unbound:
“Seeking out new pieces to contribute to this conversation is as important, if not more so, as rediscovering the sublime human experience of a Beethoven quartet. The seven pieces on this album represent a collection of treasures we’ve discovered from this century. One of these pieces, Annie Gosfield’s ‘The Blue Horse Walks on the Horizon,’ was written expressly for our quartet. The rest we unearthed as we sifted through the vibrant and varied landscape of music being created today.
“We sought to find a set of pieces that were both enchanting on their own and together represent a cohesive aesthetic. From the immense technical challenges of Judd Greenstein’s ‘Four on the Floor,’ the meditative contemplation of David Lang’s ‘almost all the time,’ to the raw emotion and vivid imagery of Missy Mazzoli’s ‘Death Valley Junction,’ these pieces represent an incredible diversity of sound and style. Yet they all reside comfortably in this wonderful tradition of string quartets, of which we are lucky enough to be a part.”
The Jasper String Quartet maintains a busy concert schedule; you can see the group perform on March 16 in Philadelphia; on March 19 in Beacon, NY; on March 28 at Le Poisson Rouge (where your paid admission gets you two complementary download tracks from Unbound); and on March 30 at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium. You can preorder Unbound using the link in the Bandcamp player or via the New Amsterdam website, or find it at your favorite retailer on March 17.