The History of the String Quartet in its Natural Habitat
Commissioned by Chamber Music America for the Thalea Quartet
The String Quartet, written in the summer of 2010, was originally composed as an accompaniment to a half-mimed/half-danced "staging" of Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. It was not my intention to musically interpret Poe's story, but rather to allow it to suggest a formal unravelling of musical thought. In other words, the motivic and harmonic design of the music functions on local and global levels throughout the work, much like every element within Poe's story informs larger and smaller literary functions. In the story, Roderick Usher is a manifestation of his house and vice versa, in the quartet the dramatic arrow of the music informs the 'antique' forms (such as Sonata,' 'Marche Funebre,' etc.), but the formal constraints of these forms constrain and box in the musical trajectory.
Also, perhaps subconsciously, the music's harmonies and sonic imprint reference the overly macabre and melodramatic scores of Hollywood's B-horror pictures from the 1950's and 60's.
II. Cadenza — Burletta
III. Notturno Marche Funebre
22 September 2010
Stevie Eller Dance Theatre - Tucson, AZ