String Quartet Nr. 3 at MOMA

Joel Sachs, who curates the classical offerings at the Museum of Modern Art’s Summergarden concerts, has programmed my String Quartet Nr. 3 for a concert on Sunday, July 24 at 8 pm. The Cavatina Quartet will perform – Randall Goosby and Mariella Haubs, violin; Jameel Martin, viola, and guest cellist Jia Kim. The players are students at The Juilliard School, except Jia Kim, who is a recent alumna.

I wrote the quartet on a commission from the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society back in 1999; it was premiered by the Ying Quartet and most recently played by the Daedalus Quartet. You can find some sample pages from the score on this site’s score excerpts page. Here’s more about the piece:

program listing
String Quartet No. 3 (1999)
I. Theme and Variations
Theme: Largo
Var. 1: Andante Moderato
Var. 2: Allegretto Grazioso
Var. 3: Vivace
Var. 4: Prestissimo
II. Fantasia: Allegro Ansioso
Var. 5 : Adagio
III. Finale: Vivace, Poco Scherzando
Coda: Largo

program note
After writing a series of pieces that either set texts or relied on pre-existing melodies (old sacred tunes) as compositional resources, I set out to create a more autonomous, abstract world in my Third Quartet. My efforts yielded a somewhat unusual formal scheme: a theme and variations is first interrupted by an anxious (“ansioso”) and expressionistic Fantasia; then resumes for a single variation, infiltrated by gestures from the Fantasia. A viola cadenza follows, introducing a rondo-like finale. This attempt to cap the piece in a playful spirit is surprised by a final reprise of the slow variation theme, this time in a simple unison statement. The entire sequence plays without pauses and runs about 20 minutes.

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