METHERA – Vortex (Methera TET003)

vortexI’ve had mixed feelings about Methera in the past. They are fine musicians, without doubt, who choose to play as a string quartet so why not dip into the classical repertoire? There are many traditional tunes appropriated by European composers and it wouldn’t be wrong to pinch one or two back. It does seem that by writing new music and playing it in this style they are actually producing modern classical music. Still, here they are celebrating their tenth anniversary with their third album, Vortex, so what do I know?

My favourite track is the pairing of two traditional jigs, ‘Da Shaalds O’ Foula’ and ‘Old Favourite’ and I suppose that is because it is traditional. In contrast, the eleven-minute title track seems dangerously modern and some might consider it self-indulgent. The opener, Emma Reid’s ‘Lily’, manages to squeeze three “movements” into a very short period – the temperament of a one-year-old is held to blame – and is an excellent piece to kick off with. Lucy Deakin’s ‘The Fox’ and Miranda Rutter’s ‘Blackbird Schottische’ make another good team with its opening pizzicato violin imitating the call of the titular bird.

‘Hagsätra Brudmarsch’, from the band Väsen, translates nicely from Swedish to English and John Dipper’s ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ is another top tune and one that modernises the style of the string quartet with the feel of traditional music which is, I suppose, what they set out to do. Finally, Paul Mack’s ‘Late Longings’, a dreamy, drifting tune, owes nothing to either the classical form or the traditional and is possibly where Methera are most at home. Vortex will undoubtedly please their many fans as Methera set out on their anniversary tour next month.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Da Shaalds A’ Foula/Old Favourite’ live: