Session Report: The Solem Quartet’s recording of 20th-century and contemporary music

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The Solem Quartet’s violist Stephen Upshaw talks to Harry White about the themes of light, shade and perspective that link the works on the ensemble’s album of 20th-century and contemporary music

Some albums are the result of an artist’s compulsion to record a particular work. Others begin conceptually, with an idea from which the repertoire is drawn. Regardless of the process, there is inevitably symbiosis between concept and repertoire.

In the case of Painted Light, the Solem Quartet’s first album with Delphian, the question of which came first is an interesting one. All under the somewhat nebulous themes of ‘colour, light and shade’, the album testifies to the group’s reputation for diverse programming. Recorded at Willards Farm in Dunsfold, Surrey, it is a potpourri of contemporary commissions, historic 20th-century repertoire, and Joni Mitchell’s seminal song Both Sides Now, arranged by the quartet’s violinist William Newell…

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