by Avalon String Quartet on February 18, 2004
Performances: (12/7/09): “the Avalon String Quartet played the piece twice more that year. The group subsequently performed the piece in South Windsor, Connecticut on April 18 and again on April 26 in New York City as part of the Goddard Riverside Musical Evenings. The piece has recently gained some more performances. It was performed on July 28, 2009 at the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival in Wintergreen, Virginia. On November 1, 2009 the Adaskin String Trio plus one associate performed the work at the University of Hartford. The work will be performed again this coming June at the Three Bridges International Chamber Music Festival in Duluth, Minnesota.”
Published: no, but the score and parts are available from me for a modest fee. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
CD: Albany label /Avalon String Quartet
The composer writes: “Many of my pieces are composed of very short movements, so I wanted to challenge myself to compose a large, unified work. The four movements of the String Quartet are part of a single form, specifically a “sonata form” which was the basis of many nineteenth-century movements. The sonata form comprises an exposition of thematic material, an unsettled develop.m.ent in which the themes are fragmented and juxtaposed, a recapitulation of the original material which resolves the conflicts of the develop.m.ent, and (as in some works of Beethoven) a coda which is a concentrated restatement of the sonata’s themes that suggests a second develop.m.ent. Each of the four parts of the sonata form becomes a movement in my String Quartet, and all four movements use the same themes and motives.
“My String Quartet contains another transformation of the sonata form. The exposition is moved from the first position to become the slow third movement. What I call the ‘dramatic shape’ of the form is thus radically altered so that the piece begins in the middle with the develop.m.ent. The coda (fourth movement) is an echo of the opening develop.m.ent. The middle movements are surrounded by the fragmented develop.m.ents so as to suggest an open form. The second movement sounds like a spirited finale, while the reflective third movement exposes the original form of each of the work’s thematic ideas. A multi-movement work that expresses a longer form is part of nineteenth-century musical thought, but an open form, one in which the musical progression is fragmented and re- ordered, is antithetical to it.
“The sonata form is a tonal form, that is, based in a key. My String Quartet is based on the pitches of the open strings of the violin (G, D, A, and E) with D being the principal pitch among the four. Occasionally you will hear the open strings sounded together as a chord as in the loud strumming that occurs in the first movement. Chords of similar structure (i.e. based on successive perfect fifths) become an important harmonic component of the work.
“All the thought that went into the structuring of the piece was directed at achieving my expressive goals. I wanted the individual movements of the String Quartet to function as scenes in a play, so that the listener would experience the work as a dramatic unity. In addition, I wanted to compose a piece that is both lyrical and idiomatic for strings and which expresses both energy and mystery.”
Sponsored by: Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Peters