Zenit (2010)

Rozalie Hirs

string quartet

Commission: Formalist Quartet with support from the Netherlands Performing Arts Fund


  • 1. [north]
  • 2. [east]
  • 3. [south]
  • 4. [west]

Program Notes

Zenit (2010) consists of four movements, [north], [east], [south], [west], investigating the overtone realm of the string quartet in different ways. It is scored for a relatively high register of the string instruments with a quick highly energetic bowing technique, resulting in a continuum between timbre, tone color and harmony, pitch.

In [north] each of its twenty constituent chords are articulated in a distinctly different way, the rests can be regarded as inhabited by inaudible harmonic progressions. In the [east] movement, clouds of tones are separated by shorter silences. In [south] the possibilities of harmonic rhythm are investigated in one continuous movement. In [west] a delicate web of harmonics is spun, and then unraveled by glissandi of harmonics like light falling onto the audience.

The order of the movements may be changed while considering the relative placement of the hometown of the composer, Amsterdam, with respect to the performance location. For example, Amsterdam is located northeast from Los Angeles or New York, thus the performance order is as mentioned when performed in those cities. In Moscow, for example, the performers might prefer the following order: [south], [west], [north], [east].