Soli : three pieces for string quartet
by Elliott Gyger (2003)
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Library shelf no. CD 1525 [Available for loan]
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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.
Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello.
Duration: 12 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Professional.
Contents note: Aria -- Recitative -- Fantasia.
First performance: by Ying Quartet — 23 Oct 03. Paine Hall, Harvard University, USA
Intended for performance as a three-movement work, but independent performance of any of the three pieces is permissible.
Winner of the 2000 Blodgett Composition Competition.
Performances of this work
23 Oct 03: Paine Hall, Harvard University, USA. Featuring Ying Quartet.
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