Grammy Nomination for Composer Jefferson Friedman - Chiara Quartet Album on New Amsterdam Records

Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartet No. 3 Nominated for a GRAMMY for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition”
Recorded by the Chiara String Quartet New Amsterdam Records

Composer Jefferson Friedman's String Quartet No. 3, part of the Chiara String Quartet's Jefferson Friedman: Quartets album released in April on New Amsterdam Records, has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category (#76). The 54th Grammy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012, at 8pm EST on CBS.

Jefferson Friedman: Quartets also includes the composer’s String Quartet No. 2 and two remixes of the quartets by electronica duo Matmos. Grammy-winning engineer Judith Sherman (who is also nominated this year in the Classical Producer of the Year category) produced the recording.

The album has drawn significant praise since its release. The Boston Globe reports that String Quartet No. 3 shows “astonishing imaginative breadth,” while The San Francisco Chronicle raves, “It's a rare thrill to come across new music as exciting, vivacious and downright gorgeous as these two string quartets by young New York composer Jefferson Friedman.” Gramophone states, “Both in concept and in content, this CD of American composer Jefferson Friedman’s music breathes fresh new life into the string quartet genre. . .”

Friedman’s String Quartet Nos. 2 and 3 were commissioned by the Chiara, and are the result of a near fifteen-year friendship with the composer. They met in 1996 at the Aspen Music Festival, where the Chiara premiered Friedman’s first string quartet. They crossed paths again as graduate students at Juilliard and had a casual conversation that resulted in the composition of String Quartet No. 2 in 1999. In 2005, Friedman’s third string quartet was commissioned by the Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music on behalf of the Chiara. The world premiere took place that spring at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

Of a performance of No. 3, Allan Kozinn, writing in The New York Times reported it to be, “a vital, imaginative 30-minute score, packed with unusual timbres, unabashedly rich melodies and carefully worked-out themes. Mr. Friedman’s quartets are finding plenty of performances; they already deserve to be heard as classics of this decade.”

First violinist Rebecca Fischer remarks, “Jefferson describes his string quartets as abstract diary entries and the act of writing them as pure expression. Because we are such good friends, his music reflects our combined experiences; he writes for the Chiara Quartet as a unit and for each of our individual strengths and personalities. Parts of String Quartet No. 3 directly reflect this: ‘Epilogue/Lullaby’ is dedicated to my first daughter’s birth, and the love duet in ‘Act’ between the second violin and cello was written at the time of Julie and Greg’s engagement.”

The remixes by Matmos sprang from a more recent musical friendship, which began when Jefferson Friedman created the string arrangements for the duo’s 2006 album, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast (Matador). For Friedman’s album, Matmos responded in kind and contributed two remixes which sample the Chiara’s recordings of String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3. Matmos Remix No. 1 (A Bruit Secret Mix) is an addictive dance track, while Matmos Remix No. 2 (Floor Plan Mix) is an enigmatic and haunting three-dimensional exploration of sound.

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