Program Notes

“Tetora” means “four” in an ancient Dorian dialect. This is an advanced work of Xenakis, the last of his string quartets. Here he deals with sound, architecture and structure in an advanced and personal way. Though he still uses mathematical principles (in this case, sieves) to determine his harmony, he has in this piece become a master of choosing processes which give a strong colour and expression to his music.

We return now to the concept of melody (a concept completely absent in his Stochastic pieces of course). The opening of this quartet is an intricate succession of melodic textures. Melody is presented in a limited number of ways: 1) solo, 2) counterpoint, 3) resonated — in which pitches are echoed in the group, 4) distributed — hocket-like, 5) chorale, and 6) accompanied. This melodic writing gradually gives way to harmonic sections which create their own floating rhythmic counterpoint. As a whole, the piece is defined by its lyricism and elegance of structure.

Cassandra Miller