Harry White speaks to Carmen Flores and Katie Stillman of the Villiers Quartet about recording rare repertoire by a pair of British maverick geniuses – Ethel Smyth and Frederick Delius
The North York Moors National Park has been an often-used muse for great artists. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the poetry of Wordsworth and the writings of Laurence Sterne are all indebted to its glorious and forbidding landscape. The area boasts a rich musical heritage too, something that is set to continue with its stunning new venue, Ayriel Studios. Part recording studio, part retreat, Ayriel Studios is barely a year old but is already forging a formidable reputation as a setting that meets the creative, acoustic and practical needs of today’s musicians.
‘We were one of the first quartets to do a studio recording there,’ explains Carmen Flores, violist of the Villiers Quartet, which has recorded an album of string quartets by Frederick Delius and Ethel Smyth at the facility. ‘We didn’t know anything about it, but we were familiar with the artistic director, cellist Jamie Walton, and our interest was piqued!’
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