Blueprinting is the debut album from the Aizuri Quartet, featuring works by five of today's most exciting American composers -- Lembit Beecher, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Caroline Shaw, Gabriella Smith, and Paul Wiancko -- who all possess a special understanding of the expressive range and power the Aizuri Quartet is capable of harnessing. The result is a collection of viscerally powerful pieces that glow with ingenuity and push the string quartet in inventive and unexpected ways.
A very special thank you to the following people who provided major support for Blueprinting:
Lena Ouzounian and Sirvart Hamboyan
Shoko and Takaharu Saegusa
Ellen and Young Nam Kim
Chisato and Tohru Kozasa
Elizabeth Ouzounian, Sona Tahan, and Johny Tahan
Additionally we would like to thank the 260 individuals who contributed to our Blueprinting Indiegogo campaign, without whom this album would not be possible!
As the album title suggests, Blueprinting implies building a project that takes time and requires significant planning. The works featured on the album were all born out of a close collaboration between the quartet and the composers, and Aizuri Quartet committed to exploring the full spectrum of the story behind each piece, adding layers of richness through their discovery during long rehearsals, workshops, performances, and tours. These pieces have become a central and personal part of Aizuri Quartet's repertoire, and embody the inquisitive spirit and infectious energy of the quartet.
Blueprinting opens with Gabriella Smith's Carrot Revolution, written as a response to the Barnes Foundation's exhibit The Order of Things in which paintings from Dr. Albert C. Barnes' collection were displayed with other, mostly unexpected, objects. As such, Smith celebrates new ways of looking at old things, such as the string quartet and her musical influences (including Bach, Gregorian chant, Georgian folk songs, and Celtic fiddle tunes) by juxtaposing drastically different techniques and sounds. Caroline Shaw's Blueprint follows, which Shaw describes as a harmonic reduction of Beethoven's string quartet Op. 18 No. 6 and serves as a conversation without words between the Aizuri Quartet, Beethoven and Haydn.
Yevgeniy Sharlat's two-part RIPEFG, written in honor of his dear friend, the late composer Ethan Frederick Greene, adds color and texture with the addition of a melodica, an instrument Greene would also bring to lessons. A two-movement suite from Lembit Beecher's chamber opera Sophia's Forest follows, which depicts the inner world of the opera's narrator -- a 9-year old girl named Sophia who arrives in the US with only her mother after her father disappeared in a civil war -- through a sound world made by the quartet and nine custom-built, electronically-controlled sound sculptures that generate sound acoustically from bike wheels and wine glasses. The album concludes with Paul Wiancko's three-part piece LIFT, which he describes as "an investigation of elation in musical form" as he "joyously explores the capacity for harmony, color, and rhythm itself to evoke and inspire" -- an appropriate finale to an album built on exploration, expression, and wonder.
The pieces on Blueprinting were made possible by support from the Curtis Institute of Music, Curtis on Tour, the Barnes Foundation, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, and the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.
Blueprinting was recorded, produced, edited, mixed and mastered by Ryan Streber at Oktaven Audio in Mount Vernon, NY. Nathan Debrine was the assistant engineer, with additional editing by Charles Mueller. Melodica by Ayane Kozasa (tracks 3 and 4) and sound sculptures by Lembit Beecher (tracks 5 and 6).
“A dazzling debut...” - Peter Margasak, October 2018
POP MATTERS: “Aizuri Quartet's 'Blueprinting' Is One the Best Contemporary Classical Debuts of the Year”
“Aizuri Quartet's 'Blueprinting' Is One of the Best Contemporary Classical Debuts of the Year”
“...a testament to the vitality and energy in the contemporary classical world. Bold and brimming with stellar new works, the album is a testament both to the voices of its composers as well as the dynamic relationship between the quartet themselves.”
- Andy Jurik, PopMatters, October 8, 2018
“The music and performance is, in a word, stunning... Aizuri Quartet’s recording debut immediately places them at the forefront of string quartets working in the contemporary idiom. Their ability to function as a perfectly unified ensemble while exploring every nook and cranny of a piece’s soundworld makes literally every moment of Blueprinting completely satisfying.” - Brianna Matzke, Nov 2, 2018