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Sunday, December 19, 2021

Richard Carr, Over the Ridge, String Quartet Music Out of the Pandemic and Beyond


With no doubt a certain amount of determination we face each week nowadays and look to the good things as we come across them. Today that certainly includes a recent album by composer-violinist Richard Carr, namely a set of interrelated movements for string quartet entitled Over the Ridge (Neuma Records 146). It all came about as Richard found himself in 2020 in COVID lockdown with a lot of time on his hands to make use of. He took advantage and created this set of twelve composed-notated works that stand together as a kind of counter reaction of something hopeful in the face of great uncertainty.

The music that comes to us in this program has a Contemporary tonal quality that is neither precisely pre-Modern nor High Modern nor even exactly Post-Modern--which is only to say that it feels like a very lyrical and folksy music of place, locality, of something we might have called in the pre-Pandemic the music of "home," only home is what remains when Not-home shrinks to a tiny fragment of its ordinary place.

So what does that sound like? Well it sounds like Richard Carr music that has folksy originality which in some way reminds me of Lou Harrison if Lou had never "gone World," so to speak, It is kind of primal modal in its own way, neither primarily repetitive though it has sections that open out of ostinato--but in a sort of open ethnicity of our present cosmopolis, how the local spans who we are right now.

All this so much so that I am not sure exactly what else to say except it seems like important music, delightful music well performed, and it is something you probably do not want to miss, even if it does not come careening out of some cyberspace in a far avant sort of way. By a refusal to follow any but its own dictates it gives us an alternative to the lockdown misery! Bravo.

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