String Quartet #3

I. Calmo, Risoluto, Teneramente
II. Feroce, Cascando
III. Pensieri Oscuri, le Stelle (Dark Thoughts, The Stars)

String Quartet #3 (1992) was commissioned by the Alexander String Quartet with the support of a grant from the Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest Commissioning Program, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace -- Reader's Digest Fund.

In contrast to String Quartet #2 "Bucephalus," String Quartet #3 has no explicit program. The three movements, all widely different variations on the same subject, have Italian performance indications. These offer some guide to their musical character. The first, "Calm, Resolute, Tender," is a kind of lullaby and farewell to my daughter (but who is leaving?). The second movement, marked "Ferocious, Cascading," suggests a diabolical scherzo. The final movement, "Dark Thoughts. . . the stars," refers to Dante's "Divine Comedy." The opening passage from "The Inferno, Canto II" accompanies the score.

The day was departing, and the darkening air
relieved the spirits of the earth
from their labors; and I, myself, alone
prepared to undergo the struggle
of the journey and of the pity involved,
that my memory, unerring, will retrace.
Oh Muse, oh high genius, help me now. . .

Recorded on CRI CD 682 Martin Bresnick, Music for Strings.