String Quartet No. 3: Chromo

Completed on October 7th, 2009
Cover Art by Kelsey Birdseye

This piece was actually started for two specific reasons:  1) There was a performance opportunity given to me in Paris that required a string quartet, and 2) Arizona State University was having a composition competition offered by the St. Lawrence String Quartet that required a newly written string quartet with an approximate length of 8 to 10 minutes.

The approach to this piece was that I wanted to write something that was fast and exciting but that also broke a lot of boundaries as far as my standard harmonic language was concerned.  I found myself sitting in a dark modal world, utilizing primarily the Octatonic scale that was greately embellished by chromatic coloration, hence the subtitle, “Chromo.”  From the start, the harmonic palette was saturated with all twelve pitches, so the evolution of the music had to be found within the texture, timbre, rhythm, and register of the works.

As a result, the introduction to the piece begins with a solo by the first violin pounding out a four-bar beat pattern highlighted with accents on the strong beats.  The second violin eventually joins in, continuing to elaborate the initial beat pattern.  Finally, but ever so briefly, the violins are colored by the viola and cello, pushing the violins into their higher register.  All four instruments are not permanently introduced until measure 54.

This faster introduction give way to a much slower passage, very sparse in rhythmic motion, but intended as a moment of repose.  This section, though only 32 measures in length, is equal in duration to the opening passage.  The third section is meant as an exploration, or development, of the previous two sections.  The rhythmic aspect returns, this time featuring the cello as it ascends from the lowest register of its range to a much higher level over the course of the passage, effectively transitioning between the ideas of the introductory section to those of the slower section.

With an accelerando, this section moves back into a passage resembling the introduction.  Reiterations of the beat groupings and accent patterns are simply intended to provide closure to the piece, which concludes with the first violin in it’s highest register and the cellist sounding at its lowest.

String Quartet No. 3:  Chromo

Media

Score Readable PDF Score of String Quartet No. 3: Chromo
Recording

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Past Concerts

Chandra Susilo; Anne Sorenson, violins; Isadore Tinkle, viola; Ruth Wenger, cello  

Date Venue City More
04/22/11 Katzin Concert Hall, Arizona State University School of Music Chandra Susilo; Anne Sorenson, violins; Isadore Tinkle, viola; Ruth Wenger, cello in Tempe [+/-]

Kurt Mehlenbacher, composer  

Date Venue City More
11/02/09 Katzin Concert Hall, Arizona State University School of Music Kurt Mehlenbacher, composer in Tempe [+/-]
07/25/09 Cortot Concert Hall, L’Ecole Normale de Musique Kurt Mehlenbacher, composer in Paris, France [+/-]