Program Notes

This string quartet is an expansion of a solo work for viola (of the same name) which was commissioned by philanthropist Daniel Cooper for violist Pemi Paull. It’s a piece about process, about Pemi’s musicality, about Bach of course, and in the end, about the Quatuor Bozzini.

I first took a recording of a short phrase (the first phrase in major) of the famous Chaconne from Bach’s Partita no. 2, performed live by Pemi. I then meticulously transcribed the recording with the help of some software — this is a process I’ve developed over some years to apprehend the exact rhythmic musicality of a performance, capturing as well various artifacts such as the viola’s upper partials as they change within each bow-stroke.

The opening of the piece is simply this transcribed phrase of Bach, with a harmony of my own making, which turns the phrase into a gently jaunty chorale. From there the phrase goes through a somewhat inaudible process that is simply let to run, until it runs itself out. It’s a constant meandering, a non-developmental piece in an extreme sense. My interest (and freedom) in exploring such a simple form comes directly from working with the Quatuor Bozzini, and this string quartet version is a souvenir of gratitude for years of great inspiration.