Commissioned for the 25th Anniversary of the Howland Chamber Music Circle.
Premiere performance by the Voxare String Quartet. June 9, 2018. Presented by the Howland Chamber Music Circle; Beacon, NY.
String Quartet No. 2 – The Howland Quartet (2018), written in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Howland Music Circle, honors this musical community of which I have been so fortunate to be a part, by “telling the story” of its founding, growth, and the ongoing spirit that sustains it and which remains an enduring legacy.
The story begins with the selection of the historic Howland Cultural Center. With its magnificent wooden interior, vaulted ceilings, and resonant acoustic, the visionary founders, Gwen and Bill Stevens, recognized it as the perfect venue for chamber music.
Mov. I – A shimmering idea…you decide to follow
The movement begins with shimmering harmonics and gains energy as imitation passes through the four voices along with the notes of harmonic series for a feeling of incipience and creative excitement. Conversations unearth both difficulties and possible solutions. Coming to an agreement, the movement closes with a remembrance of the initial inspiration.
Mov. II – The beauty of the dream upon reflection
This movement takes its theme from the Andante Cantabile movement of Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 1, a piece recently heard on the series. Written in 1873, around the time that the now Howland Cultural Center was built, it evokes the ethos of the time. The Tchaikovsky quote begins in the cello overlaid with the same phrases of shimmering harmonics that begin Movement I. First violin takes up the melody and yields to a duet with the cello symbolizing the founders shared vision. The Tchaikovsky theme yields to more distantly related variations and a middle section that puts us in unfamiliar terrain, using extended techniques until the lyrical theme insinuates itself again in counterpoint with the more earthy rearrangement of the theme in plucked strings. The ending quietly points us in a new direction.
Mov. III – Danza Energico
The third movement erupts into a lively dance, a story of the regenerative spirit of the Circle now entering a second generation. A chorale tune emerges and morphs into Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring and crescendos to a joyous fiddling finish.
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