Joseph Summer: Sea Change String Quartets

Ulysses Quartet

Catalog #: TROY1933
Release Date: May 1, 2023
Format: Digital

Joseph Summer is familiar to audiences both as a composer and as the founder/director of The Shakespeare Concerts. Summer's oeuvre includes eight operas, chamber opera, cantatas, more than 100 vocal works, string quartets and many works for chamber ensembles. He studied at Oberlin and Carnegie Mellon University. This is the sixth recording of his music for Albany Records. The Ulysses Quartet was founded in 2015 and won a gold medal at the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and first prize in the 2018 Schoenfeld International String Competition. They have performed around the world to critical acclaim and advocate for music by underrepresented composers.


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Track Listing

Title Composer Performer
Sea Change #1 - "I to the world am like a drop of water" Joseph Summer Ulysses Quartet
Sea Change #2 - "unpath'd waters, undream'd shores" Joseph Summer Ulysses Quartet


  • The composer Joseph Summer returns with his 6th album on the Albany label, where the Ulysses Quartet flesh out the 2 very involved pieces. "Sea Change #1"occupies the first half of the listen, where Christina Bouey and Rhiannon Banerdt's meticulous violins interact with the cello and viola for a very gripping and flowing display of dynamic string interaction. The back half of the affair, "Sea Change #2", opens with a very intimate presence, where Colin Brookes' expressive viola and Grace Ho's poetic cello help the 3 chapters emit both minimal and busier moments. A recording that captures Summer's always exceptional vision of chamber music, the Ulysses Quartet's unparalleled chemistry makes for a must hear record for those with an inkling towards strings.

    – Take Effect

  • Intelligent programming, intelligent playing, intelligent notes by pianist, intelligent layout and design. What more could one ask for? Very little: this is one of the best conceived discs I've heard recently. The Scottish-born pianist has an impressive resume which touches base with many countries and includes a Doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music, an Associate Professor of Piano at Illinois State University and American Record Guide September/October 2023 many other achievements – very well covered in the notes. Opening with CPE Bach's occasional jettison of bar lines in his Fantasias in B-flat and in C brings us an upbeat, perky and impressively executed bit of the composer's whimsy that extends into the John McCabe Fantasy on a theme of Liszt and Schubert's "Graz"Fantasy in C. You would be hard pressed to identify which theme was used by McCabe for his piece since it is never directly quoted, but we are told it is there. The almost 13-minute duration is rarely a trial to listen to, but it is the most abstract and my least favorite of these selections. Schubert's "Graz"Fantasy is a rarely heard delight that has you wishing for more, and that is fulfilled by all four of Ernst Von Dohnanyi's Rhapsodies Op.11. The Rhapsodies, late romanticism in full flower, present a most satisfying grouping. The final Andante Lugubre uses the Dies Irae theme and ties things together into a neat package. All is brilliantly played by Duce, who has mastered all the color and subtle dynamics needed. And yes, the sound of the Hamburg Steinway is impressive. Despite my gripes about the McCabe, this is a must acquisition.

    – Fanfare

*Album cover provided for Editorial use only. ©Albany Records. The Albany Imprint is a registered trademark of PARMA Recordings LLC. The views and opinions expressed in this media are those of the artist and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views and opinions held by PARMA Recordings LLC and its label imprints, subsidiaries, and affiliates.