I had somehow never heard of Jefferson Friedman when I heard his 3rd String Quartet at the Ecstatic Music Marathon. Informed by the classics of string quartet literature--Bartòk, Shostakovich--Friedman somehow manages to thoroughly digest the models to produce something integrated and organic.
Ecstatic Marathon Countdown - #5 - Jefferson Friedman
He wrote his 3 string quartets for the Chiara Quartet who gave a masterful performance at the Marathon. Judd Greenstein, curator of the Festival, introduced the 3rd String Quartet at the Marathon, calling it one of his favorite new pieces in the last few years. I can't disagree. It flows like a mountain stream through a wide range of emotions--from the turbulent first movement to the serenity in the third. At some point, the form of the work stops making perfect sense to me (although I've only heard it twice now). Sections seem sometimes out of proportion with one another, and I feel conflicted about the afterglow of an ending.
The Chiara Quartet really sold the piece; unafraid to really dig in, mature enough to hold back, they blew me away in concert and sound even better on the recording. I wish I could bottle up their tone and drink it. I would make great effort to see them if they ever come back through Chicago.
Jefferson Friedman: String Quartet No. 3 -- played by the Chiara Quartet