Performances: (11/28/09) in Mexico City, Amsterdam and Pittsburgh by the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, at Brandeis University (Boston) by the Lydian Quartet, and in Stockholm by the Webber Quartet.
CD: (2006): Albany Records/Cuarteto Latinoamericano (“Calligraphies”)
The musical material of the composition is derived from Persian traditional music. The modal characteristics of the piece, as well as the tuning, rhythm, and form, relate to the Iranian modal system, the Dástgâh. The composition consists of three continuous movements (Largo, Molto Allegro, Lento) played without interruption.
The entire string quartet is based on the Persian mode of Návâ (pronounced nahVah). Návâ is one of the oldest modes of the Persian modal system. The scale of Návâ which Vali has used for the piece is: C-Dp-Eb-F-G-Ab-Bb-C. The “Dp” means that the pitch is a quarter-tone higher than D-flat. The mode consists of two interlocked tetrachords with the pitch F as the Finalis (the tonic). The descending order is: F-Eb-Dp-C, and the ascending series is: F-G-Ab-Bb-C. This mode is elaborated throughout the first movement by the solo viola.
The second movement is based on a folk dance. The tempo is fast and asymmetrical. Different segments of the Návâ mode have been selected to undergo a series of transformations, including atonalization (the process of making a segment of a mode sound atonal). Although the second movement sounds Western, it is entirely derived from permutations of different segments of the Návâ mode.
The third movement is a variation of the first movement. It refers back to the Návâ mode, now transposed a sixth up to A-Bp-C-D-E-F-G-A. The quartet as a whole elaborates different parts of the Návâ mode which were stated by the solo viola in the first movement.
Sponsored by: Faria Vahdat-Dretler, in memory of Parviz Mahmoud