As with a few other recent works, my interest in the classical and folk music of Romania served as a springboard to launch work on this quartet. A few years ago I spent time in Bucharest exploring various facets of the city’s musical culture (the Enescu Museum, Radio Romania, etc.). I used Romanian folk tunes as points of departure for selected melodic material in each of the quartet’s three movements, although the piece sometimes developed in other directions during its composition, seemingly of its own accord. Nevertheless, especially in the final movement, something of the Romanian folk element shines through.
The first movement has an overall slow-fast- slow-fast form with numerous small changes in tempo and character. In the slow sections a heavy dramatic melody alternates with a more lyrical, somewhat mysterious one. The fast parts are very rhythmic and folklike.
The second movement is more simply structured in A-B-A form; a brief scherzo is embedded within the Largo framework. The third movement follows without pause. The finale is like a rondo in that a principal theme recurs several times throughout. Its short introduction is followed by the main Giocoso tempo.
This work was written for the Dover Quartet, whose members I have known since our shared student days in Philadelphia, and above all, it was their superb playing that provided the most profound and lasting inspiration for me to compose this work. Special thanks are due to Donald Allison, Teodorian Velicu, Mellissa Franklin of the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, and the MacDowell Colony. Each of these individuals and organizations played an instrumental role in supporting the creation of this piece.
Michael Djupstrom’s String Quartet No. 2 was commissioned for the Dover Quartet by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music with the sponsorship of Michael Spino & Susan Henderson, and Wendy & Elliott Weiss.
Sponsored by: Michael Spino and Susan Henderson, Wendy and Elliott Weiss