TOSCA STRING QUARTET REVIEWS
...soon a much wider crowd began to catch the tango music fever. The minor-chord melodies, the edgy rhythms, the complex, melodramatic mood — tango struck a chord in Austin.
The string players appeared at (SXSW) in 2007, proving that crowds welcome them as strongly in UT’s Bass Concert Hall (their alma mater) as they do at Emo’s.
"If you work with them, you can't go back," grins Voxtrot frontman Ramesh Srivastava about the four professionals in Tosca String Quartet. After recording a track for the band's Your Biggest Fan EP, Tosca returned to the indie-pop quintet and splayed beautiful depth all over their debut full-length. The emotion evident on Voxtrot wouldn't be possible without them.
Through it all, the Tosca strings shimmered and skittered their way about the melodies, lending texture and weight to Wagner's obtusely dark lyrical allusions.
In particular, he was masterfully accompanied by the Tosca
Strings, which played a major role in stirring all the different
flavors into one tasteful stew...
On the other, Texas-based chamber group the Tosca Strings, featured on nearly every track of “Grown Backwards,” saturated the songs with a burnished, complicated glow. Cellos and violins sawed whirling harmonies on “I, Zimbra,” dropped notes like ornaments onto a cover of Lambchop’s “The Man Who Loved Beer,” and unfurled lush swaths of melody on “Glass, Concrete, and Stone.”
Blending old-world dedication with futuristic genre-bending, Austin’s Tosca string quartet is in a class by itself.
Byrne’s fascination with strings has kept the Tosca Strings – Mahoney, Asbell, violinist Tracy Seeger and cellist Sara Nelson – busy in recent years. After touring with Byrne following the 2001 release of his “Look Into the Eyeball” CD, they went into a recording studio in Austin to lay down tracks for “Grown Backwards.” Quartet members recently completed a European tour with Byrne and said they’ve become an ever more integral part of the artist’s live shows.
Aside from the formidable Kronos, it is hard to think of another contemporary string ensemble that is as versatile and bold in its choice of repertoire, venues, and collaborators.
They have maintained that fiery spirit, making it difficult not to get caught up in Bartok’s wry, folk-driven rhythms, but have since honed in on matters of blend and cohesion and come up with more refined technique.
Austin's crossover Tosca Quartet made the Fifth Quartet all but bleed, with their fiery and streetwise performance. Tosca has found a place for itself in Austin's much vaunted live-music scene by performing with an accordionist in tangos, proving again that playing non-classical forms can breathe life into classical music.
Waking Life’s mood, mystery, and fluidity become doubly effective as a result of the sensuous sounds of Austin-based maestro Glover Gill and his seven-piece "tango nuevo" orchestra, Tosca.
One can only hope that… Reynolds, Stopschinski, and the Tosca String Quartet do something like this again. Collaborations that reap results of this level are not common enough.
Tosca is sleek, solid, and spare, classically trained… and fully equipped with the instrumental grace their moody and intricate repertoire demands.