Tuesdays @ Monk Space presents

Intimate Letters with the Lyris Quartet

October 25, 2016

8:00 pm

T@MS Interviews The Lyris Quartet:
Leos Janacek’s second string quartet Intimate Letters, which is the foundation of your newly released album, is an incredibly powerful and moving piece of music. How has its meaning changed for you over time? What about the Janacek made you want to work so closely and expansively with the piece? Janacek’s “Intimate Letters” has been one of the most amazing musical journeys the Lyris Quartet has taken. From the first day we learned it, over 8 years ago, to the recording of this piece for our “Intimate Letters” album, the piece has change and evolved. Like Bach, this composition has the amazing quality of everlasting wonder; one could study for a lifetime and feel differently about it in every stage of life. In general, a composition’s musical notes don’t change, but tempi, dynamics, musical phrasing can all be left up to the performer’s discretion. In the case of “Intimate Letters,” there is no one definitive edition, therefore certain notes that lend to the color of various chords, are interpreted differently from edition to edition and therefore from ensemble to ensemble. That’s what makes this composition so special and ever changing. Every generation believes they have found the “key” or the “correct” interpretation of what Janacek was really trying to say.
-Timothy Loo

Your album Intimate Letters features new works by composers Childs, Broughton, Knell, and Rohde, inspired by Janacek’s original piece. Have the composers’ musical responses changed the way you view the original work? What inspired the particular variety of composers commissioned for the album? Beyond our personal connections to each of the composers who wrote new works for this album, each one represent different facets of the diverse musical community here in California. Bruce Broughton is a legendary, award winning film composer who has spent much of the last decade writing not only music for film but concert works as well. Billy Childs, who is a monster jazz pianist and who we’ve been lucky enough to perform with as part of his jazz ensemble, has also in recent years written more and more for string quartet and has always counted the “Intimate Letters” quartet as one of his favorite pieces of music. We got to know Peter Knell after performing another piece of his on the Hear Now Music Festival, which focuses on composers living and working in Los Angeles. And Kurt Rohde, is a fixture on the new music scene in San Francisco who is always pushing the boundaries of the sonic world of string instruments. These four seemed to perfectly complement each other, and so do their pieces! Each one of the new works brought out a totally different side of the Janacek, not only musically, but emotionally as well. This only serves to heighten all the incredibly dramatic moods of the”Intimate Lettters” quartet.
-Shalini Vijayan

Did recording an album together as a quartet present any unique challenges or opportunities? The quartet flew to Germany to record this album for ARS. It was a real challenge to be at our best for four consecutive days, recording all of this music in an unfamiliar space in a different country! We were very fortunate to be in the hands of an excellent recording engineer who really helped to make those days as productive as they were. We are all quite pleased with the final product!We are so happy that we had the opportunity to work with four outstanding composers who graciously made the time to write for the Intimate Letters project. It was great to spend time with them in preparing these pieces for performance and for the recording. It was fascinating to see how each approached the idea of responding to the Janacek. Each work is very effective on its own, but the sequence of all four new pieces has a great arc to it when played as a set
-Luke Maurer

The quartet just opened for Kraftwerk in the Hollywood Bowl recently. What are the biggest differences between playing a huge show like that and putting on a recital at Monk Space? What do you hope to communicate to the audience with Intimate Letters? In some ways, the challenge is the same. We are hoping to connect with our audiences no matter what the size. At the Hollywood Bowl, although we miss the intimacy and physical closeness, playing to such a huge crowd and having our music permeate such a huge space is awesome. At Monk Space, we will have the advantage of being really close to our audience. They will see and hear us breathe together as an ensemble. We will have a connection to each other and the audience in a way that only a small intimate space like Monk Space allows.With this concert, we are presenting the Janacek as well as four new works that have been inspired by the Janacek. With any music, what we hope most to communicate with our audience is the intention of their works. All of the composers have a unique voice and their works are stunning.
– Alyssa Park

Program Notes
The Second String Quartet of Leoš Janáček— Intimate Letters— holds a special place in the repertoire of the Los Angeles-based Lyris Quartet; having been the first work that the group performed publicly. Considering the influence that this dynamic and emotionally charged work played in the formation of the Lyris Quartet it comes as no surprise that they have chosen to include it here, on their debut album— a true testament to the connective power of chamber music.

Champions of new music the Lyris Quartet actively cultivates relationships with many living composers, and this album brings together four of them: Bruce Broughton, Billy Childs, Peter Knell, and Kurt Rohde; each asked to write a work in response to Janáček’s incautious and fervid quartet Intimate Letters. The resultant works, as one would expect from such a diverse assemblage of composers, comprise a passionate compendium to the Janáček original— each new quartet brimming with a compelling balance of emotional response and musical homage. Paradoxically, it was just this type of reciprocal interconnectedness that Janáček so desperately sought, describing Intimate Letters to his muse and seemingly unrequited love interest Kamila Stösslová in 1828, he writes:

“…I’ve begun to write something nice. Our life will be in it…I think that it will sound delightful. There have been so many of those dear adventures of ours, haven’t there? They’ll be little fires in my soul and they’ll set it ablaze with the most beautiful melodies.”

Location

Monk Space
4414 W. 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Location

Monk Space
4414 W. 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90004