STRING QUARTET NO. 3 (“A Tapestry”)

The Ciompi Quartet gave the premiere performance of the new work, commissioned by the group, on Saturday, April 11, 2015.  For New Yorkers, the work was heard April 18, 2015 at the Tenri Cultural Institute.  That program featured Scott Lindroth’s String Quintet, with Ashley Bathgate, cello, and Melinda Wagner’s My Tioga, premiered  by the Ciompi Quartet in 2015.

Stephen Jaffe   STRING QUARTET No. 3 (“A Tapestry”) Program Note

STRING QUARTET No. 3 (“A Tapestry”) is a gathering of musical fragments woven into a whole. Framed by a Prelude and Postlude, the longest of the six movements lasts about five minutes, the shortest, one minute or so. Musical ideas and phrases migrate across the movements, in the service of the moment and the whole experience.

The six movements of A Tapestry are Prelude (Fragments)—Scherzo I (“Scherzino”, or Little scherzo)—Joy of Rhythm—Ribbons (watercolor)—Scherzo II (“Scherzone” or Big scherzo-with Night Blues)—Postlude (with light of dove and the rose). The descriptive titles of each movement require little explanation, except two. Within the otherwise wild and shifting energy of Scherzo II comes Night Blues, inspired as a memory-portrait of a performance given by the Ciompi Quartet and cellist Norman Fischer on September 14, 2001. The whole world seemed to depend on one note’s timing! The Postlude’s main section also bears a subtitle. This part of the music is a free transcription for quartet of a song I composed to Richard Wilbur’s translation from the French of Villiers de l’Isle Adam, which includes the lines “If, like the flower which grows/ In the exile soil of graves/ You beg to share my woes…I’ll bring you a gift of doves.”

 String Quartet No. 3 (“A Tapestry”) is dedicated to my friends, the Ciompi Quartet.



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