Methera (YAN001) 
Debut album released 2008 

• FiddleOn 
• The Living Tradition - August/September 2008 - Issue 80 
• English Dance & Song - Autumn 2008 
• Songlines - October 2008 
• Taplas 
• Lira - Issue 4, 2008 
• Bath Chronicle - 30th December 2008

"Methera choose and compose the most wonderful tunes, their string sound is sweet and clean, their decorations are subtle and expressive, their rhythms are exciting, catchy and quirky, their pure intonation makes even the most extreme discords sound fantastic, and their arrangements are original, uncompromising and clever. They make those strings ring and shout, and they make them whisper and melt. They can do a jaunty, jolly tune set, or create an almost mystical mood in which time almost stops. It doesn't get better than this!"

The Living Tradition 
"There can't have been too many of us lying awake for nights on end thinking "if only someone would unite the rich texture of the string quartet format with the depth and integrity of traditional music, if only..."

However those who have brooded for perhaps years in this fashion can now dispense with the Sominex as Lucy Deakin, Miranda Rutter, John Dipper, Emma Reid on cello, viola and fiddles respectively, inspired by the creative musician's need to innovate and experiment have done just that. Already feted by BBC Radio 3's Verity Sharp (Late Junction) most artists would never risk, much less accomplish so wonderful a rabbit-from-hat as is realised here.

The co-operative, whose individual names should be familiar from membership of such varied outfits as the English Acoustic Collective, The Bezzas, and Jabadaw deploys its talents to good effect. It's a focused work too, by turns jaunty and stately. The originals, which include the opening Apple Scrumping (Miranda) and Orange and Green (Lucy) are interspersed with trad. numbers (Lumps of Plum Pudding/Henry Cave's Hornpipe) and dovetail so easily that it's hard to see the join. A voyage of sonic and cultural experimentation then, is the idea; a richly rewarding euphonic experience is the net result. "The tunes we choose to play, both traditional and newly composed are those that enchant us" say Methera and who could disagree with such a mission statement? The surprise of the year to these ears; an untried concept, but immaculately done, it's hard to argue with music this plucky and adventurous. Sometimes new wine and old bottles aren't incompatible. " 
Clive Pownceby

English Dance & Song magazine 
"Lake District sheep are a spirited and independent breed as were the shepherds who continued to use the old Norse numbers - yan, tan, tethera, Methera - when counting them. The four players who make up the string quartet Methera are Lucy Deakin, John Dipper, Emma Reid and Miranda Rutter. They are extraordinarily talented musicians whose music demonstrates their own spirit and independence.

The string quartet (two violins, viola and cello) in classical music has been described as ‘the one perfect medium for musical expression‘ and it is interesting to see this medium applied to traditional music by people who are not afraid of ‘folky quavers’ as derided by one violin teacher. The sonorities range from the ‘music of the spheres’ in ‘Copernicus’ to the exciting wash of sound in ‘Anno 1643’. The cello provides a percussive bass as pioneered by the Chainsaw Sisters, but throughout the four parts lead, interact and support equally, making it truly the music of friends.

Scandinavian influences are heard in several tracks, particularly the two Swedish song tunes but also ‘Frenchy Set’ by Jean François Vrod. The contemporary pieces will have to prove themselves over time but are off to a promising start, being steeped in tradition. Traditional English tunes gradually kick the music into a higher gear with colourful arrangements. The Playford tune ‘Mount Hills’ features two instruments in unison with counter melodies weaving in and out. The ‘English Set’ has references to bell-ringing and more tunes than those listed, the hornpipe developing into a complete miniature suite of English music with its roots firmly in dance.

The production is excellent and there are adequate, if brief, notes. This is a CD that rewards careful listening and there is nothing woolly about it except the strands of sheep‘s wool illustrated on the cover, symbolising the musical threads woven into a fascinating tapestry by Methera." 
Lyn Law

"Methera's line-up is totally conventional, yet very unusual. Emma Reid and John Dipper play fiddles, Miranda Rutter plays viola, and Lucy Deakin plays cello. But how many classical string quartets include in their repertoire dance tunes by the Somerset knife-grinder Henry Cave? 

Perhaps more should, because traditional English music such as 'Henry Cave's Hornpipe' or 'Mount Hills', are simply gorgeous when played by a string quartet. It works so well because, although this is a classical formation, Methera don't turn their material into classical music. It is significant that they learn the pieces and play without sheet music, so it is lively and risky. But neither is this a trad session on posh instruments. Methera's musicians play with all the accuracy and intensity that distinguishes chamber music. It is original and highly enjoyable. As well as traditional tunes, Methera play some of their own compositions and those by their contemporaries. A tune inspired by a 17th-century astronomer, but recently written, in which Enlightenment ideas and more contemporary questioning of the cosmos rub up against one another, exemplifies what they're up to. 'Copernicus' is by Robert Harbron, who recorded the album and has captured Methera's live performance beautifully. They are also keen on Scandinavian music, perhaps because the sharp clarity of this suits them. But there is nothing winterishly bleak about this album - rather a gentle glow of enjoyment pervades the music and Methera's performance." 
Julian May

"This is not just any old quartet. Methera model themselves on the classical string quartet, with Miranda Rutter on viola and Lucy Deakin rounding things of on cello. The four came together precisely to explore the classical construct as a medium for traditional music. The outcome is sheer delight, with a fascinating and varied selection of great pieces, many of which are from the pens of the quartet's line-up.

Methera cast their nets more widely, though, bringing in modern compositions by the masterful French fiddler Jean-François Vrod, Swedish guitarist Roger Tallroth, Swedish-Finnish fiddler Karl Gustaf Karlsson and, from nearer home, Robert Harbron (who also recorded and co-produced the album) gazes into the skies with Copernicus. The past is not overlooked: Playford is plundered for Mount Hills, two other well-known English dance tunes get an airing and, presumably, Reid was behind the two ancient Swedish melodies. Both albums are utterly mesmerising and each reveals previously hidden depths with every repeated listening" 
excerpt from a double review by Keith Hudson

String quartet in folk music tradition. The repertoire of string quartets is most often associated with the expression of classical music. That established string quartets tackle folk music is a good testimony to the genre, but sometimes the nerve of the folk music is lost. The instrumentation of the string quartet nevertheless provides rich possibilities to capture the specific expression of folk music.

This is shown by the folk musicians in the new English quartet Methera with their debut album. They make a strong and independent break-through into predominantly the English folk tradition with both traditional and new material. Through Emma Reid and some Swedish music we also are provided for from a Swedish horizon. The diverse and coherent sound of a cello, two fiddles and a viola fulfills the groups’ objective of giving the tunes a personal character.

As prominent instrumentalists the various members of the group have made exciting and powerful arrangements of older English music, own compositions and old-inspired Swedish folk music. Through playing technique and tone of instrument, each musician expresses the content and atmosphere of the stories the tunes wish to tell. Methera’s music grows strong in an inspired interplay between creative musicians, expressive intonations and thoughtful rhythmic motion." 
Gunder Wålberg (translation from Swedish by Emma Reid)

Bath Chronicle 
"Rosie Upton’s top 5 roots records

Album: Methera 
Why: The music ranges from traditional tunes to recent compositions with wonderful melodies and beautifully constructed harmonies.  
Lovers of both traditional folk and classical music will revel in this innovative and perfectly paced virtuoso album that successfully combines the integrity of traditional English music with the fine texture of a classical string quartet. All 12 tracks are stylish but my favorites are Apple Scrumping and In Its Time."

(Other records included were: Eliza Carthy - Dreams of breathing under water, Fotheringay - Fotheringay 2, Mariza - Terra, Robb Johnson and the Irregulars - Love and death and politics 
Rosie Upton


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