Published Oct 13, 2013Quartetski's arrangement of The Rite of Spring won't inspire any riots, but it does stretch at the same boundaries that caused such a stir at the premiere of Igor Stravinsky's masterpiece in 1913. Scored for bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, drums, electric guitar, violin, viola de gamba and electronics, the content of the original work is clear even as the ensemble ventures into bouts of improvisation.
The famous bassoon solo that opens the piece is played by the bass clarinet. The churning, pulsating chords are played in rhythmic unison by the ensemble with the guitar and drums breaking out for a satisfying groove. And the familiar sequence of events unfolds at roughly the same pace as the original. One doesn't get lost within the folds of this music, but the strong tether to the original does make for an engaging ride.
The opening set by the Gordon Grdina Trio offered an outstanding dose of boundary-defying music that set an excellent tone for the start of the X Avant festival. The extreme musicianship of Grdina on oud and guitar, Tommy Babin on bass and Kenton Loewen on drums set a perfect tone for the theme of "This is Our Music" of X Avant VIII.