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Soli : three pieces for string quartet

by Elliott Gyger (2003)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

From the CD Chamber music

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Chamber music


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Chamber music : live recordings, 1995-2003 / Elliott Gyger.

Library shelf no. CD 1525 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

Soli is somewhere between a collection of three independent pieces and a three-movement string quartet. To borrow a metaphor from electrical circuitry, the three pieces are connected not in series, but in parallel: that is, they constitute three responses to the same compositional problem, rather than a single narrative. The common starting-point is the separation of one player from the other three.

Aria explores a model for string quartet behaviour familiar from Haydn and many others: first-violin melody accompanied by the other instruments. However, the model is subverted by the insertion of an imaginary one-way mirror between the soloist and the trio.

In Recitative the proportions of solo and accompaniment are reversed: the upper three instruments become a composite soloist, while the cello (played pizzicato throughout) provides the support of a "continuo" line.

The title of Fantasia refers primarily to contrapuntal fantasias of the 17th and 18th centuries using cantus firmus technique. The role of the cantus firmus line (here the viola) in such pieces is paradoxical, in that although it provides the backbone of the structure it is not necessarily prominent, and may not even be present all of the time.

Work Details

Year: 2003

Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello.

Duration: 12 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Professional.

Contents note: Aria -- Recitative -- Fantasia.

Commission note: Commissioned by Musica Viva Australia for performance by Emerson Quartet.

First performance: by Ying Quartet — 23 Oct 03. Paine Hall, Harvard University, USA

Winner of the 2000 Blodgett Composition Competition.

Intended for performance as a three-movement work, but independent performance of any of the three pieces is permissible.

Performances of this work

23 Oct 03: Paine Hall, Harvard University, USA. Featuring Ying Quartet.

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