Methera is a new string quartet that, on this eponymous recording, plays folk music from English, French and Swedish sources, as well as compositions by members of the quartet and others.
The quartet consists of: Emma Reid and John Dipper (fiddles), Miranda Rutter (viola), and Lucy Deakin (cello).
The following tracks have been composed or specially arranged by members of the quartet:
1, 12 Miranda Rutter
3, 6, 9 John Dipper
8 Lucy Deakin
Other tracks are composed/arranged by:
4 Robert Harbron
5 Jean-Francois Vrod
10 Roger Tallroth
The remaining tracks are “traditional”
The album was recorded live at Home Farm on 21st August 2007.
The CD label is YAN001
The CD’s bar-code is 5 060109 094046
Methera’s website is www.methera.co.uk
Because this album has only very recently been released it doesn’t appear to have been picked up yet by Amazon, but it can be purchased through Methera’s website. You can also listen to (and download) some of the tracks on this recording from www.myspace.com/methera.
John Dipper’s own website is linked on Methera’s website, but John advised us at a recent workshop that his website www.johndipper.co.uk currently has a problem that is certainly not of his making - it unexpectedly demands a log-in name and a password. The situation is being looked into …
I heard them today on a Radio 3 programme and wondered if they’d got into this base - lazyhound had got there before me and given all the relevant details: these include the fact that their MySpace slot hosts a very generous five tracks off their album for free listening.
It’s the best new thing I’ve heard on the English trad front for some time (I’ve been underwhelmed by some of the other acts and albums that have recently scrabbled for stardom…) and should be of special interest to those with a classical strings background, or interested in how trad can be handled in a string quartet format, because these players are classical musicians first. The tunes - such as I’ve heard - are not stunning melodies in themselves, but the musicianship has a real depth to it and retains the listener’s (well, my) interest and pleasure.
There’s some convergence with what Alistair Anderson and Kathryn Tickell have done in various bands, and the Scandinavian influence that’s coming into a lot of English trad. But here’s their MySpace page with the free tracks: I do recommend a listen, even if you do not think it’s for you!
I didn’t know what “methera” meant until someone at a session last night said it was a shepherd’s counting word for “four” (it’s important to keep a head-count of the animals). I’ve looked it up on the Internet and this article explains everything:
I second Nicholas’s assessment. Track 7, for instance, has some of the most complex cross-rhythms I’ve heard - without seeing the score I’d guess they were using polyrhythm - and some very imaginative treatment of two very old tunes (listen for the change-ringing of church bells - perhaps a reminder of the Christmas celebrations when plum pudding would have been on the menu).
I’ve been to a couple of workshops given by John Dipper - a workshop tutor and musician I seriously recommend.
John’s website http://www.johndipper.co.uk , which was down recently, is now up and running again.
Another website of interest is http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ba/ba46/ba46int.html
This mentions that “methera” in found in Wiltshire (Southern England), and is apparently related to the Welsh “pedwar” meaning “four”.
Methera is most unusual for a quartet of professional classical string players in that they have deliberately chosen not to use any vibrato. This gives a distinctive sound and clarity to the ensemble which, amongst other things, shows how accurate their intonation is and has to be.
Like their contemporaries Spiro, they record “live” in a single acoustic space, which means that you automatically get a richness and immediacy of sound, and what they record they can obviously play live on stage. None of this nonsense of musicians in recording studios being individually isolated in acoustic booths and wearing headphones during the recording process - you can always tell on the recording, it sounds artificial. Rant over.