String Quartet No. 4

Commissioned By Arizona Friends Of Chamber Music

Year
2019
Duration
30 minutes

This work is my fourth string quartet, written for an ensemble that I greatly admire, the Escher Quartet. My deepest thanks are to Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, who commissioned this piece.

The opening movement, Fugue, is an imposing movement based on two central ideas. The first is an introduction composed of fortissimo chords, and the second is a fugue subject, which is first presented in strict fugal fashion but then developed in wildly different ways throughout.

The second movement is an extended meditation that counterbalances the intensity of the fugue. This past summer, I trekked for two weeks in a remote, mountainous corner of Afghanistan called the Wakhan corridor, hiking a similar route to the one Marco Polo took centuries ago. In this desolate but hauntingly beautiful place, sometimes called the Roof of the World, people live in extremely harsh circumstances. As I hiked across the steppe, I returned to this idea of timelessness again and again. I was reminded of a poem: "What the Mountain Saw", by the British poet Philip Gross.

For all of my lifetime, Afghanistan had been a land shrouded in mystery--a place steeped in epic history, difficult to traverse, now seemingly impossible even to visit. Over the years, what had these mountains seen?

I do not intend this movement to be a portrait of a place that I do not have full understanding of, nor a statement of any kind. But I do hope that the listener feels the same timelessness, the same stillness that I felt when walking across this vast and sweeping landscape.

This work was premiered by the Escher Quartet in March 2019 and the premiere performance is below.

Category
Chamber Works
Instrumentation
view Other

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