Quatuor Bozzini Arbor Vitæ

Quatuor Bozzini Arbor Vitæ
Although he was born, and died, an American, composer/theorist James Tenney earned a warm spot in Canada's musical psyche for his tenure as a professor at Toronto's York University. And it is a motivating mix of affection and respect that moved Montreal-based string quartet Bozzini to produce this reverently mounted two-CD collection of Tenney's entire work of quartet/quintet pieces. Spanning five decades, Arbor Vitæ includes the piece of the same name composed in 2006, the last year of Tenney's life, an ethereal waving and weaving of microtones, the mid-period "Saxony," using tape delay and an extended tamboura-like drone's unfurling, and early work "String Quartet in One Movement" from 1955. The foursome grow to a quintet with the addition of percussionist Rick Sacks on 1995's "Cognate Canons" and 1997's "Diaphonic Study" includes ever-expansive pianist Eve Egoyan. Quatuor Bozzini play every note with microscopic attention to detail and nuance, making even the smallest gesture contribute to this finely faceted gem. But one drawback is Tenney's penchant for homage, which can be derivative, sometimes of sources other than the composer being honoured. This music is cerebral, no doubt about it, but with the likes of former premier Mike Harris itching to exert an anti-intellectual influence, maybe some grey cell stimulation is just what we need. (Actuelle)