Friday, July 31, 2015

Review of Quaver's Quaver

This is a string quartet CD.  But not just any string quartet.  This is a quartet made of VIOLS.  Viols are the earlier cousins of the modern violin, viola, cello, bass.  There is an audible difference because the instrument bodies are different, the strings are different, and the bows are different.  I invite you to do a little looking into what a viol actually is; I would rather discuss the sounds and impression I get from this CD.  The warmth of viols and the more grounded sound that the instruments produce remind me of the difference between a pristine white wedding cake (modern day string quartet) vs a carrot cake with texture and flavors that come together to create one cohesive structure. Pretty sure they should use that in their press kit. 
The four member ensemble, Marie Dalby, Brady Lanier, Loren Ludwig, and Toby Szuts, play together so tightly that is it difficult to discern one instrument from the next.  They react and play and move in a synchronized way that can only obviously be compared to a synchronized swim team.  Each team member keeps time gracefully making sure the entire group comes up for air gracefully and, as part of the dance, swirls in time.  Air, space, and synchronicity is honored beauty.
As for the ensemble's mission to engage the eclectic sensibilities of the iPod era, the ensemble plays everything from Medieval Machaut to an arrangement by Mr. Lanier of Sheryl Crow's Wildflower.  Both of these are my personal favorites on the CD.  Machaut is just crazy stuff, and Brady did a very fine job of marrying viols with a 2005 popular rock song highlighting the sounds of each instrument to give this instrumental version depth and richness that seems to preserve the original lyrics without actual singing. 

To summarize, if you enjoy the warmth of modern strings, but want to feel the warmth go from ordinary milk chocolate to dark 70% chocolate with sea salt, buy this CD.  Just go to and buy one or a dozen copies.