REVIEW: The FLUX Quartet, SummerFest’s Powerful Champions of the Avant Garde

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 10, 2018

As a salute to the UC San Diego Department of Music, SummerFest’s host for most of the 2018 music festival’s concerts, Music Director Cho-Liang Lin featured two of the university’s resident composers in his festival’s annual program of contemporary music. Rand Steiger’s new work “Tropes” and Lei Liang’s 2005 “Serashi Fragments” communicated that austere, under-the-microscope, post-serial intensity that UC San Diego composers have championed ever since Bernard Rands left for Harvard and Roger Reynolds ascended the compositional throne in the 1980s.

Lin wisely engaged the FLUX Quartet to deliver this formidable program, which they accomplished with zeal and evident relish, spurred by the edgy, resonant sonority of Felix Fan’s insistent cello and Max Mandel’s unrelenting viola. FLUX Quartet is America’s brawny answer to Britain’s effete Arditti Quartet.