Streichquartett (1990-92)

I. Adagio-Allegro 
II. Largo
III. Allegro molto
Audio Excerpt


Program Notes

     This highly charged, expressionistic work exhibits music of lyric and force of velvet and sandpaper.  The long and intense opening viola solo encapsulates the shape of the dense and rich contrapuntal music to come.  The arch-like melody which punctuates the formal process with dramatic recurrences betrays the dramatic progression of the entire movement: increasing tension stems from distinct motives that are continuously set against each other.  Temperamental clashing, juxtaposition and development lead to a climatic point of arrival highlighted by a 4-octave unison passage that culminates in an extended presentation of a charged ensemble figure first heard directly after the opening viola solo. The subsequent descending slope of the formal arch exhibits a concentrated recalling of material: principle motives weave around the now fragmented (in phrases and different instruments) solo line in music that is both serene and exhausted.

     Delicate timbres and hushed sonorities impress a veiled, even exotic, quality on the Largo 'Nachtmusik'.  Recitative-like solos emerge from and lead into more sostenuto and dramatically deliberate two to four voice passages.  These solos may be said to symbolically represent individual awakenings; a complementary harmonic process occurs in the gradual expansion from tertiary to quartal-based harmonic structures.

     The rather virtuostic opening tempo giusto of the Allegro molto prepares for an expansive double fugue distinguished by both the nature and presentation of its two subjects.  The first and principle subject, silence, is made to 'sound' in various expositions.  At the climax of the central episode, a second fugue is introduced in retrograde. This procedure applies quite literally to both the subject and formal evolution of the fugue itself: a climatic stretto of the second subject moves 'backwards' through various expositions and episodes 'culminating'/ending with a single-voice presentation of the subject. In the meantime, the fugue on 'silence' counterpoints with the second fugue.  As the former expands and climaxes in stretto, the latter contracts - the work ends in structurally logical and dramatically motivated silence.