Julie Amacher, Classical MPR
"We had two ideas — we had the Mozart, which is typically Mozart in its beauty and lyricism, contrasting with these much more intimate, internal, dark pieces."
That's Ross Snyder, founding violinist of the Tesla Quartet, explaining the concept behind their second recording, "Joy and Desolation." They start with Mozart's Clarinet Quintet and end with a piece written in 2014 by a young Argentinian composer, Carolina Heredia.
I want to talk about the theme behind this recording because it's about contrasts, light and darkness, and I'm wondering how you chose to represent these ideas in the music that's featured on this recording?
"It all began a couple of summers ago when we played the Mozart Clarinet Quintet with Alex Fiterstein. After rehearsing it and performing it, we really felt that we had a connection with Alex, and we really enjoyed working together. So, we thought if there would be an opportunity to record the Mozart together, at some point, we would do that.
"John Corigliano's Soliloquy was suggested by Alex because the Soliloquy was originally the slow movement of Corigliano's Clarinet Concerto. Alex was fortunate as a student at Juilliard a number of years ago to have performed the Corigliano concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra, and he had worked with Corigliano in preparing for that performance. He has a special connection to this quintet version.
"The Heredia and the Corigliano are both kind of dark pieces, with either loss from death or being separated from your homeland, which is also the subtext of Carolina's Ius in Bello. And Finzi's Bagatelles were a way of balancing everything out because they are, like the Mozart, very lyrical, very beautiful and charming in their own way. That's how we balanced the disc. We basically found that these two ideas were very clear: the joy and the desolation."
One of the advantages of doing a studio recording is that you can play around with the mic placement and even where each of you sit. How did you take advantage of these opportunities as you were recording?
"In the Corigliano, there are a lot of duets between the first violin, which Michelle played on this piece, and the clarinet. We experimented with the distance from the microphone for the players to see if we could capture the sound being more isolated or colder or more distant, and things like that. We really just go with what sounds we like.
"I don't think any piece on the disc is concretely in one camp, either joyous or desolate. I think each one, just like any person, has many sides, so I think that's how the music all works together."
To hear the rest of my conversation, download the extended podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.