MUSIC: New Jethro Tull album features string quartet

WHAT do Jethro Tull and a string quartet have in common? A new album, evidently. The classic Jethro Tull repertoire has been arranged for a classical string quartet.

Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson and keyboardist John O'Hara first saw the Carducci Quartet at the London Symphony Orchestra's LSO St Luke's and, mesmerised, Anderson invited them to take part in the recording of Jethro Tull the String Quartets.

Anderson, who is no stranger to working with orchestras, said he and O'Hara had performed many orchestral concerts over the past 15 years.

"So, a couple of years ago, I came up with the idea of recording a dedicated string quartet album in a contemporary but 'classical' setting with brief appearances from myself,” he said.

"I felt that there were some songs rather special to me which featured the string quartet such as A Christmas Song, Reasons For Waiting and Wond'ring Aloud. These were my first experiences of working with a quartet.”

O'Hara, on his approach to the orchestration, said there was little point in transcribing the band parts and distributing them to the players.

"I felt a responsibility to delve deeper and offer a new imagining of each piece. An orchestrator's job is to arrange and compose a new version of an existing work,” he said.

"However, I also felt a responsibility to the Jethro Tull listeners who cherish this material and may not welcome a radical rendition of a beloved song. My ambition was to create a thought-provoking album that remains true to Ian's compositions.”

Jethro Tull the String Quartets, is due for release on March 24. Jethro Tull will tour Australia this year, including Bluesfest on April 16.