Piano Quartet (2015/19)
(violin, viola, violoncello, piano)
premiered April 4, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
in Kilbourn Hall at Eastman School of Music
Eri Noda, violin
Joshua Lohner, viola
Henry Myers, violoncello
Tze-Wen Julia Lin, piano
Diana Rosenblum, conductor
Score-follower video of Piano Quartet
I composed the first movement of Piano Quartet in January 2015, four years before the other two. It lay dormant in the meantime, its concluding cadence begging the fruition of additional movements I only recently had impetus to compose. This temporal gap, intervening between the composition of the first movement and subsequent two, is further widened by the former’s neoclassicism. I had intended the first movement (in my then-words) as an “omni-homage,” “confronting myths of originality, as well as anxieties of influence, by assimilating characteristic attributes of admired composers, toward the partial eclipse of my individualism in favor of aspirational collectivity in their hallowed company.” Thus, the title Perpetuum stands alone without its qualifier, mobile, as reference to a notion of timelessness.
Besides alliterative, the titles of second and third movement likewise betoken an essential quality of each. Poem is named for its stanzaic phrase structure, affecting an analogy between formal verse and music, by which couplet-pairings of rhyme-ending lines accrue unto quatrains, sequenced according to a semblance of rhetorical logic. It is imagistically compact and thoroughly dodecaphonic, splitting the aggregate into a pair of hexachordal complements that trade between string trio and piano throughout. Accounting for piano pedaling, string resonance, and echoic memory, a 12-tone vertical sonority occurs at least once per measure. Pandemonium is haywire and hell-bent, intent on chromatic saturation via relentless aggregate-completion, horizontally and vertically. It extends the ongoing trading of hexachordal complements into a polyphonic texture and free-associative stream of consciousness.
Despite the leap from tonal diatonicism to atonal chromaticism that obtains between Perpetuum and its successors, the three movements share a common concern with counterpoint, balance and symmetry, by way of classically archetypal phraseology.