At the Octoroon Balls; A Fiddler’s Tale Suite

COMPOSERS: Wynton Marsalis
LABELS: Sony
PERFORMER: Orion String Quartet; Musicians from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
CATALOGUE NO: SK 60979

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Wynton Marsalis’s prodigious musical output continues with this simultaneous release of a jazz album recorded in 1994 and two totally composed classical albums recorded in 1998.

At the Octoroon Balls, Marsalis’s first string quartet, is an extremely impressive debut. He has avoided the usual classical formality of an opus number, and even given titles to the seven movements, and the music has a thrilling urgency and power.

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His invention never flags and this thoroughly 20th-century Orion Quartet can swing and boogie with the best. Marsalis has enlarged the soundscape of the string quartet and its emotional scope. Similar qualities of wit, subtlety, humour and irony inform his A Fiddler’s Tale Suite, which was inspired by Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale.