Grammy nominated Enso String Quartet performs

By Mariana Roa Oliva

The Enso String Quartet performed at Macalester on Wednesday night. Different Trains, the three-movement piece composed by Steve Reich, was part of the program presented at the concert. One of the things that made this performance special was its multimedia nature; in Different Trains, recorded speech is “translated” into melodic motion in Reich’s style: repetitive patterns that create an almost hypnotizing minimalistic texture. The combination of recorded voice and live music in this piece gives life to one of the few Holocaust memorials existing in classical music. Steve Reich, a Jew living in the United States during the Second World War, was influenced by the trains he used to take from New York to Los Angeles to visit his parents. The piece uses these sounds to represent the Holocaust trains he might have been in if he lived in Europe. Also included in the concert was a piece entitled “Sona” by Kurt Stallmann. Again in a multimedia format, “Sona” consisted of stage music inspired by the rhythms of the city and videos of passing trains and recordings of trains, rain, and other sounds from the environment. This piece offered a nice contrast to Different Trains, despite using many of the same musical elements, such as train noises.

The only piece that did not take advantage of the multimedia format was Hommage a Mihaly Andras. However, this series of Microludes was not any less interesting. The composer, Gyorgy Kurtag, created in these mini-pieces a variety of soundscapes, some of them soft and sweet, some playful, some visceral and passionate.

This multi-disciplinary performance by the acclaimed Enso String Quartet was the second concert presented this year by Macalester’s New Music Series.