February 14, 2023—Slow Beethoven, set for release April 28 via Round Sound, is a dramatic reworking of a movement from one of Beethoven’s late string quartets, sonically transformed in a huge empty water tank in the high desert of northwestern Colorado. Performed by a string quartet led by renowned cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, Music Director of the National Sawdust Ensemble, the work is the creation of The TANK Center for Sonic Arts, a nonprofit recording studio and concert venue dedicated to the Tank.
On Slow Beethoven, the Zeigler-led quartet performs the fugue movement from Beethoven’s “String Quartet #14 in C-sharp minor,” Opus 131, at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. Relayed into the Tank in Colorado and back into the headphones of the performers, the sounds of their performance resonate in the Tank’s sonic environment, a deep, swirling reverb that sustains sounds up to 40 seconds. The extremely resonant space requires the quartet to slow the piece drastically so that the movement, usually some seven minutes long, becomes a totally unique 44-minute work.
“This collaboration has created something that is still Beethoven, yet otherworldly,” notes TANK Executive Director James Paul. “It’s a new sonic and emotional experience of his meditation on grief, resolution and transcendence.”
Word of the Tank as a world-class sonic site spread rapidly after locals in Rangely, Colorado showed it to sound artist Bruce Odland in 1976. The seven-story COR-TEN steel structure has always remained empty as the soft shale hill where it was sited proved unable to hold the weight of 600,000 gallons of water. Today, the TANK is a fully equipped recording venue, concert site and nonprofit arts organization. The space is a haven for the local music community and a unique destination for artists, sonic explorers and curious visitors who learn to listen in a whole new way.