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Review

Stephen Fruitman, Sonomu, 10 mars 2006

A new recording of Different Trains (1988), one of the most significant pieces in composer Steve Reich’s canon, as well as in the œuvre of works dealing with the undealable, the Nazi’s Final Solution.

Reich explores the Holocaust in a highly personal manner, by juxtaposing his relatively comfortable childhood in the US, being shuttled between his divorced parents across the American continent, with the tape recorded recollections of survivors who had been forced to travel across the European continent on entirely different sorts of trains. A groundbreaking aspect of the piece is the manner in which Reich takes the vocal snippets and has the string quartet imitate the rhythms and cadences of the voices, thereby rendering them in themselves musical. The piece has deservedly received innumerable awards and the World Premiere recording by The Kronos Quartet is simply superb. A devastating acheivement.

Quatuor Bozzini from Montréal (Clemens Merkel and Nadia Francavilla, violin; Stéphanie Bozzini, viola and Isabelle Bozzini, cello) were encouraged by Reich to attempt their own interpretation. The quartet reinvigorate the piece with its intense playing and attention to detail, and appear even to have inserted some samples of the recorded testimonies which do not appear on the original.

Different Trains is one of the strongest works of the postwar era. So which to buy? Why not Quatuor Bozzini’s? Aside from the fact that it is every bit as good as Kronos’ version, you will be supporting a new group at the beginning of what promises to be a brilliant career (Kronos hardly need an introduction), own a very nifty little package, all folds and flaps, and spare yourself the tedious second piece on the Nonesuch release, Electric Counterpoint with Pat Metheny on guitar.

Collection QB is the quartet’s personal imprint under the DAME label umbrella in Quebec, which has already released a previous CD, Portrait Montréal, interpretations of works by their most immediate contemporaries.

Avec son intensité et l’attention portée aux détails, le quatuor redonne vie à cette pièce.

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