The music featured on this disc represents the varied interests of the Cypress String Quartet: a "masterpiece", an overlooked "jewel", and a Cypress-commissioned quartet. The Debussy Quartet, written in 1893 in Paris, began a revolution in string writing that ushered in the 20th Century. Composed just a few years earlier but worlds away in Prague, the Suk pieces represent the end of the romantic period. They are not profound works, but are sublime examples of salon music of the day. The Jeffery Cotton Quartet, composed for the Cypress in 2003, looks back with respectful fascination at the string quartet tradition and leads us on an inspired journey that neds in the heart of German Cabaret of the 1920s.
"Say what you want about a crisis in classical music - the Cypress Quartet is not listening. This new recording of works by Debussy, Suk and Cotton is full of an overwhelming joy and enthusiasm for the cause. With an exceptional level of technical skill and thoroughly convincing interpretations they have created a beautiful addition to the catalogue. The unusual pairing of repertoire is consistent with their mission of celebrating the new and less known with the same level of commitment they bring to the 'standard' repertoire. The recorded sound is beautiful. Mark Willsher has captured a true and natural quartet sound, and there is a real intimacy to the overall effect of the recording. Bravo." - Barry Shiffman, Director of Music Program, The Banff Centre
The Cypress String Quartet has captivated audiences around the world with virtuoso performances, including concerts at the Kennedy Center, the Chautauqua Institute, the Ravinia Festival, the Lied Centers of Kansas and Nebraska, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, M.I.T. and Stanford Lively Arts. Featured in Chamber Music Magazine as a “Generation X ensemble to watch”, Quartet members Cecily Ward &Tom Stone, violins; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello; blend outstanding performance with innovative programming and exemplary leadership in education and outreach.
Praised by the Los Angeles Times for their “assured, mature and thorough” interpretations of the classical repertoire, the Cypress is reaching out in new ways to ignite interest in chamber music. In the 2006-07 season, the Quartet melds tradition with technology in its premiere of Inspired by America, a multi-media collaboration with best-selling author Jacob Needleman and Emmy Award-winning film maker Michael Schwarz. Supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and blending live music, original film and the spoken word, this performance fuses precision playing with world-class technology to create an evocative, thought-provoking portrait of the American spirit. Inspired by America debuts at the Lied Center of Kansas and the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois in January 2007.
Since its inception in 1996, the Cypress String Quartet has built a respected body of new music, commissioning and premiering over 25 works from many of America’s leading composers. A piece commissioned last season came from 2005 Grawemeyer Award winning composer, George Tsontakis. Two other composers recently commissioned by the Cypress have been nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Classical Composition: Benjamin Lees (2003) and Jennifer Higdon (2004). Four Cypress-commissioned works appear on Chamber Music America’s list of “101 Great American Ensemble Works”. In the 2006-07 season, a new commission for the Cypress will be composed by Daniel Asia, recipient of the most competitive grants and fellowships in music, including a Meet The Composer/Reader's Digest Consortium Commission, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and four NEA Composers Grants.
In addition to the premiere performances of Inspired by America at the Lied and Krannert Centers, highlights of recent and current Cypress seasons include performances with Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, University of Maryland, University of Florida Performing Arts, Columbus, El Paso, Honolulu and San Jose Chamber Music Societies and statewide tours with the Lied Centers of Kansas and Nebraska celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Kansas-Nebraska Act with a co-commission of a quartet by American composer, Dan Coleman.
As Quartet-in-Residence at San José State University, the Cypress String Quartet’s strengths in performance and education combine to serve the University and the greater Silicon Valley community. Named an “Exemplary Arts Educator” by the California Arts Council, the Quartet’s groundbreaking Call & Response program has impacted thousands of students in dozens of Bay Area schools. The Cypress has reached an estimated 100,000 students through educational activities including Native Americans in rural New Mexico and inner-city students in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago. In September 2004 the Cypress was selected by the Juilliard School for the “McGraw-Hill Companies’ Robert Sherman Award for Music Education and Community Outreach” in recognition of their national leadership in education.
The Cypress String Quartet resides in San Francisco, California.