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Works have different destiny, which can hardly be explained. This String Quartet
waited for performance about 10 years after which it was brilliantly premiered
by the Kairos Quartett at the Contrasts Festival in Lviv,
Ukraine. It was a great pleasure for me to dedicate my piece to such excellent
ensemble as Kairos - one of the best ensembles I ever worked with. The
mastery of these four virtuosi both in the smallest details and in
building the general shape of the composition performed is really
Here are some features of this piece:
- - Cycle of 4 parts resembles classical archetype, although not because traditional forms (there are no tiny hints at them) but due to imitation of a "kind of movement" typical of proper parts of classical cycle: energetic transforming "activity" of sonata allegro, concentrated meditation of adagio, light flexibility and shimmering of scherzo. As for finale, it is orientated towards late romantic type (Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Schnittke) with its slow tempo, nostalgia, and without attempt to make any generalizations and conclusions.
- - Microthematisism. There is no theme as an independent and separated from its environment "melodic-harmonic set", while all the elements of texture are derived from several small intervallic and meter-rhythmic patterns which, depending on the point of view, might be called motives or structures. So, as Webern put it, "thematism, thematism, thematism", all-embracing, going through everything, but without theme!
- - Free atonal technique, quasi-serial methods of elaboration of material: tendency to even distribution of 12 tones, transpositions, inversions, retrogrades - precise and to different degrees variable. However, there is no series as such. Probably it is so called post-serialism when serial method is still used, but the object that stipulated the method has disappeared.
- - Microchromatisism. It is hardly based on 24-tone scale but rather deals with common chromatics expanded with microtonal alteration, similar to diatonics expanded with chromatic alteration. Microchromatic and other 12 tones are not given equal rights, the first only focus an expression of the last. Wide application of microchromatisism as additional "tool for alteration" seems to have great possibilities in enriching common scales.
- - Strict determinism of all tone caused first of all by ear control, without dependence
on certain system or rational concept.
- - Appeals to classical and modern prototypes without any polystylistic elements. Instead of them more exquisite substances are invoked: energetic consequentness of Beethoven, excitement with rests and soft echoes of Schubert, restrained melodiousness of Brahms, fluidness of Mendelssohn…
I am taking notice of the same structure of all these theses: availability of specific feature without foundation or factor that inspires it. Classical shape of the piece without classical forms. Thematic composition without real themes. Serialism but no series, microchromatisism but within traditional scale, shadows of classic masters without their music… Shouldn't all this be interpreted as signs of contemporary fin de siecle, i. e. postmodernism discussed here and there now? If so, this is a postmodernism in the shade ("a l'ombre…") of "high avant-garde". There is pure kind of neither this nor that.
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© 2000 by Alexander Shchetynsky