Stephan Thelen: World Dialogue (Video Teaser)
STEPHAN THELEN
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RareNoiseRecords releases an album of propulsive and hypnotic string quartets composed by Stephan Thelen (best known for his work with SONAR) and performed by KRONOS QUARTET and AL PARI QUARTET.

Release Date: October 30, 2020, RNR 124. Pre-order starts in early October.

www.rarenoiserecords.com
www.stephanthelen.bandcamp.com
www.50ftf.kronosquartet.org

1 CIRCULAR LINES (2016) performed by and written for KRONOS QUARTET
2 CHACONNE (2018) performed by AL PARI QUARTET
3 WORLD DIALOGUE (2006) performed by AL PARI QUARTET
4 SILESIA (2019) performed by and written for AL PARI QUARTET

KRONOS QUARTET
David Harrington: violin
John Sherba: violin
Hank Dutt: viola
Sunny Yang: cello

AL PARI QUARTET
Marta Lucjan: violin
Alicja Miruk-Mirska: violin
Magdalena Maier: viola
Elzbieta Rychwalska: cello

In April 2014, music journalist Anil Prasad was sitting in composer Stephan
Thelen's Zürich flat listening to a demo of his first string quartet titled
"World Dialogue." As a longtime admirer of his work with Sonar, including
its two RareNoise albums with David Torn, Tranceportation Volumes 1 and 2,
Prasad was fascinated by how Thelen combined his minimalist groove
compositional approach with the mercurial nuances only a string quartet is
capable of exploring.

Thelen told Prasad a dream of his was to have Kronos Quartet record one of
his compositions. Between 2013-2014, Prasad had spent many hours with David
Harrington, Kronos Quartet's founder and violinist, on a major interview
feature for his magazine, Innerviews. Prasad felt Thelen's approach was
perfectly suited for the quartet, who had previously recorded minimalist
works by Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Thelen sent Harrington the
demo recording and score. Prasad followed up with Harrington, who said "It's
a very beautiful, propulsive piece. I'm going to write Stephan back this evening."

Thelen came to visit San Francisco, where both Harrington and Prasad live,
in May 2016. Prasad organized a meeting between the two, and Harrington told
Thelen how impressed he was with his work, but said he'd like to commission
a new piece instead for the ambitious series 50 for the Future: The Kronos
Learning Repertoire. The idea was to create a diverse library of 50 works
designed to reflect Kronos' elastic capabilities and create a new body of
work for young musicians to freely access and perform. The result was
"Circular Lines."

"David is an extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable music lover and was
very supportive in every way," said Thelen. "He liked the piece very much
and said that rhythmically, it was the most challenging piece they had ever
played. It's tightly-focused and propulsive in the post-minimalist tradition
of tonal and rhythmic music that aims to create maximum effect with minimum
means. I wanted the piece to be based on a 3-against-4-against-5 polyrhythm
in which one instrument plays in 3/8, one in 4/8 and one in 5/8, while the
fourth instrument-the wild card-either plays melodies on top of this
continuum or supports one of the rhythmic layers."

Kronos Quartet went on to record the composition, included on this album. It
has been played several times by the group across the world since its live
debut in June 2017 at the San Francisco Switchboard Festival. The Al Pari
Quartet, a Polish, all-women ensemble, heard Kronos Quartet's rendition of
"Circular Lines" and began performing it at their own concerts. News of
their interest in Thelen's work reached him and he went on to collaborate
with them as well on the other three pieces in this album.

"They told me David had encouraged them to play 'Circular Lines' to
strengthen their internal rhythm as a quartet," said Stephan. "I knew how
difficult the piece was to play and I was astonished at how tight and
precise they were. They also played the melodies with an Eastern European
attitude-very dynamic, with dark passion-exactly the way I like it. Al Pari
Quartet's members are very young and very broadly trained. They grew up in a
time when young musicians have to learn to play almost any style with ease."

These collaborations with Al Pari Quartet and Kronos Quartet have opened up
the creative floodgates for Thelen. This album is first in a series of new
music projects he's pursuing, after a career previously focused on art-rock
output.

"With string quartets, the possibilities are endless, rhythmically,
melodically, harmonically and sound-wise," said Thelen. "I look forward to
composing more music based on the polyrhythmic, minimalist groove concept.
It's a very young style with lots of uncharted territory to explore. It's
fairly accessible, pleasing to the ear and aesthetically satisfying, because
it organically develops complexity out of simple, but rewarding ideas."
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