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Classical Music Review

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String Quartet No.1
The Music of Erich Zann


Composer: Michael J. Evans
Performed by: Sirius Quartet
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 10 February 2017

The String Quartet No 1 by Michael J. Evans and the Sirius Quartet is music inspired by the H.P. Lovecraft short story The Music of Eric Zann. It is available from Navona Records.

After listening to this music I thought for some time about how I might approach this review. It’s no good being pretentious about something about which I know very little. Am I the right person to critique this then? Well, the answer to that is yes... and no! I can enjoy some classical music without knowing very much about it (aside from a little Straus). One subject I do have a good knowledge of is H.P. Lovecraft, as he is one of my favourite classic writers and certainly one of the best horror writers (or weird fiction, if you like) of all time. I owned a number of Lovecraft collections over the years before purchasing a much cherished leather-bound complete works.

Although by no means weak, The Music of Erich Zann is not one of his most well-known tales. Like many of his stories this would be difficult to represent on film or TV, but I can understand why it has been chosen in this instance for the music. In the short fiction piece in question Erich plays a Renaissance viol, whereas in the cover picture for this music a violin is clearly in evidence – even though the music itself by Michael J. Evans is played on a viol. Erich in the story is described as playing otherworldly melodies of a strange nature in order to keep away bizarre creatures which seek to enter our world from Beyond. This weirdness doesn’t creep into the music here until track three, where there are just a couple of hints of what is to come.

I know Lovecraft’s tales pretty well, so sitting back and absorbing this atmosphere through music I can accept that it fits – at least in the form of incidental sound. That’s as much as I can readily accept. This music would have little or no affect without the contextual link. Therefore, it would be easy to accuse the Sirius Quartet of using Lovecraft to sell their downloads. Personally, I wouldn’t make that assumption, because there is a very good Metal band called Rage who have written a number of hard-edged and yet eerie songs based upon events in Lovecraft tales. Check out the albums Black in Mind and End of All Days, and particularly the tracks 'Voice From the Vault', 'The Crawling Chaos', 'Alive But Dead', and 'Shadow Out of Time'.

This one is an acquired taste.


Ty Power

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