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Grant Chu Covell
La Folia, December 2018

Spektral’s Haydn is playful, especially in the Scherzo but appropriately understated in the closing Presto. A particular difficulty of the new pieces is appropriately incorporating the non-musical aspects which Spektral handles nimbly. The Macklay and Fisher-Lochhead are remarkably absorbing. © 2018 La Folia Read complete review

David Kettle
The Strad, May 2016

Serious Business, the Chicago-based Spektral Quartet knowingly calls its collection of four pieces exploring humour in music. And there’s no question of the foursome taking any of this music lightly: these are superb performances, vivid and strongly felt, convincingly argued and full of rich, characterful detail. © 2016 The Strad Read complete review

Helen Wallace
BBC Music Magazine, May 2016


…preposterous, charming and brilliantly performed. These four dizzyingly accomplished musicians are more than equal to David Reminick’s The Ancestral Mousetrap, in which they have to act, narrate and sing in four parts while playing explosively dynamic music. © 2016 BBC Music Magazine

Laurence Vittes
Gramophone, April 2016

[These] geeky, highly interactive, creative and collaborative fun and games drenched in pop culture are, as advertised, unlike anything its intended audience—or anyone else—has ever heard. © 2016 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

David Weininger
The Boston Globe, March 2016

…“Serious Business” may be the most complete synopsis of what Spektral is. Sky Macklay’s “Many Many Cadences” is a feverish set of tonal sequences, akin to someone repeating a punch line so many times as to verge on madness. David Reminick’s “The Ancestral Mousetrap” requires the quartet to sing Russell Edson’s darkly humorous poetry over abrasive contrapuntal textures. Chris Fisher-Lochhead’s “Hack” is an imaginative tour de force built on the composer’s transcriptions of speech patterns of stand-up comedians, from Lenny Bruce to Rodney Dangerfield and Dave Chappelle. © 2016 The Boston Globe Read complete review

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, March 2016

Haydn requires smart pacing, a nice sense of rhythm, and an optimal blend, especially in the beautiful Largo in 3/4 time. The Spektral Quartet, consisting of Clara Lyon and Austin Wulliman, violins; Doyle Armbrust, viola; and Russell Rolen, cello, possess these qualities and more, giving this ensemble a special character all its own. Add in the numerous, and often spooky, special effects they cultivate in the contemporary part of the program, and you get the impression that they are capable of pulling off anything. © 2016 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review

Bruce Reader
The Classical Reviewer, February 2016

…a hugely entertaining work that would be extremely popular in a recital.

This wonderfully inventive work is cleverly put together and stands well as a whole.© 2016 The Classical Reviewer Read complete review

Mel Martin
Audiophile Audition, February 2016

…if you’re in the mood for levity, some new music mixed with old, and you’re willing to stretch your musical boundaries, this is an enjoyable disc. The musicianship is very good.

It’s a fun listen, superbly recorded, and for those listeners looking for a demo quality disc with some fine but very contemporary music that sometimes is off the rails, this disc is for you. © 2016 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Maggie Molloy
Second Inversion, February 2016

…don’t let the lighthearted humor fool you—these guys are no classical music newbies. Comprised of violinists Clara Lyon and Austin Wulliman, violist Doyle Armbrust, and cellist Russell Rolen, the Spektral Quartet performs music from across the classical music spectrum. The group is committed to creating connections across the centuries and providing a discourse between the traditional classical canon and the, well, not-so-traditional contemporary classical canon. © 2016 Second Inversion Read complete review

Midwest Tape, February 2016

The Spektral Quartet is regarded for their progressive undertakings, and the group delivers interactive concerts with an intimate, up-close atmosphere, and intrepid programming. They serve as ensemble in-residence at the University of Chicago’s Department of Music. The inspiration behind Serious Business is what makes something humorous, and how can we view humor through the lens of classical music. © 2016 Midwest Tape

Rebecca Julie
The Chicago Maroon, January 2016

Spektral’s album may be entitled Serious Business, but in actuality it encompasses anything but the austere classical stereotype. Filled with music that is new and old, classical and comedic, it is boundary-defying in every way. © 2016 The Chicago Maroon Read complete review

John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, January 2016

Perhaps the funniest few seconds of “Serious Business”…is the entry of Franz Joseph Haydn’s well-mannered String Quartet No. 2 (Opus 33) on the heels of David Reminick’s decidedly ill-mannered “The Ancestral Mousetrap” (2014), in which the instrumentalists play and sing (sometimes in four-part harmony) an absurdist-macabre text by Russell Edson.

The performances and recording could hardly be better, and the cover art is a hoot. © 2016 Chicago Tribune Read complete review

Lisa Flynn
WFMT (Chicago), January 2016

Each piece on ‘Serious Business’ looks at humor in music from a different angle. The album includes the world premiere recordings of three works written for the Spektral Quartet, plus Haydn’s quartet nicknamed The Joke. Humor has been a central part of the Spektral Quartet’s approach to performance from the beginning. Cellist Russell Rolen says, “If we can bring some levity, connect with you, show you that we’re human and that we’re fallible, all of that really can make people open up and be receptive.” © 2016 WFMT (Chicago)

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