At the Center of All Things

At the Center of All Things

3 new 4tets
Stanley Grill
Diderot Quartet
Adriane Post
Johanna Novom
Kyle Miller
Paul Dwyer
Catalog Number: 
new classical
string quartet

Haworth, NJ

Release Date: 
Oct 27, 2017
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

AT THE CENTER OF ALL THINGS brings together the expressive, early-music influenced string quartets of Stanley Grill with the intense, visceral sound of the Diderot Quartet’s gut-stringed instruments.  A composer for whom the string quartet is the perfect medium to express, in a modern idiom, his passion for the contemplative aspects of Renaissance vocal music, the CD includes three of Stanley Grill’s many string quartets:  American Landscapes, Lonely Voices and the title track, At the Center of All Things.

Raised in New York City, Stanley Grill has spent a life-time composing music as an act of translation, trying to understand the world and convey that understanding in musical terms.  Two main themes carry through in his work – music composed as a reflection of the physical world and music composed to inspire and promote world peace.  These themes are at the heart of all three works included on AT THE CENTER OF ALL THINGS.

American Landscapes captures that part of America that exists only in imagination – a far better place than the reality. Portraying the same disparities that exist in the real one - the stark contrasts between hectic cities teeming with people of all kinds, small quiet towns with houses out of Hopper paintings, vast stretches of unpopulated forests and mountains, smoke stacks belching smoke for miles, trains that go on forever, endless fields of grain – the music imagines an idealistic America that lacks the violence, crassness and extremism that is as ingrained in American culture as is what is best about us.

Lonely Voices embodies in sound that “lonely voice in the wilderness” that cries out for peace in an increasingly violent world.  Written as part of the composer’s on-going Music for Peace project, in each movement, one member of the quartet cries out as the lonely voice – the first violin, the viola, the cello and finally the second violin. The quartet is intended to encourage thoughts about the possibility and hope for lasting world peace. 

The title track, At the Center of All Things, is a single movement set of variations inspired by one of Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Buddha” poems.

“…and he is Star. And multitudes of giant stars that we don’t see stand all around him.  He is everything.

The music imagines being at the vast center of our galaxy of stars, centered and quiet in the midst of their vast spinning wheels of light. The wheel spins faster and faster, but the center holds, in deep, perfect, stillness.

The unique sound that emerges from the Diderot Quartet’s period instruments is ideal for these three introspective and intensely personal works.  On this CD, the Diderot gives a brilliant, evocative performance that perfectly captures the nature of the composer’s work - music that is completely contemporary while simultaneously looking back in time to the beauty and harmony of early vocal music.

This recording was produced by Ralph Farris, founding member of the string quartet ETHEL. 



"And all of this music – including that of the first two works – is captured in the brilliant, persuasive performances of the Diderot String Quartet – violinists Adriane Post, Johanna Novom, violist Kyle Miller and cellist Paul Dwyer. Throughout this remarkable group provides a very real sense that the performers know the works inside out and they are especially good at conveying the dynamic and fluid inner pulse of Stanley Grill’s music." [FULL ARTICLE] - Raul da Gama

"The American composer Stanley Grill found the ideal medium to express his poetics in the string quartet. The style of Grill brings him closer to authors such as Peter Garland, Lou Harrison and Alan Hovhaness, in the common ability to find their own expressive language, recovering in an original way forms of the past. In this case, Grill's main source of inspiration is Renaissance music, especially in the polyphonic system, but also in modal harmonies. The counterpoint between the instrumental voices is dense, geometric, but never too tight: it is designed to let the harmonious melodic lines breathe in harmonic balance, punctuated by a sort of soft continuous bass in pizzicato or incisive rhythmic sequences. In this way, Grill builds an ideal world, pervaded by pure and uncontaminated beauty; American Landscapes are in fact mental landscapes, like certain scenarios painted by Hopper. The Diderot String Quartet, thanks to their familiarity with a repertoire that extends from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century, as to the intense and full-bodied sound of strings with gut strings, is an ideal interpreter of a music that looks to the past to build, through art and beauty, a better future." [FULL ARTICLE] - Filippo Focosi



"Recalls Early Music vocal harmonies. Contemplative, peaceful, and beautiful"