|Composition Year||1997 ca.|
⇒ 4 more: Flute • Violin • Viola • Cello
|Work Title||Quartet for Flute, Violin, Viola and Cello|
|Composer||Sydeman, William Jay|
|I-Catalogue NumberI-Cat. No.||IWS 47|
|Year/Date of CompositionY/D of Comp.||1997 ca.|
|Average DurationAvg. Duration||8 minutes|
|Composer Time PeriodComp. Period||Modern|
|Instrumentation||flute, violin, viola, cello|
I played the viola in my Flute Quartet (the premiere), which immediately tells us this is not a virtuoso piece (at least not the viola part). If it was in German, the first movement might be marked gemütlichkeit (which is roughly translated as “pleasant”). That is, the thematic material and general tonal language are somewhat familiar. What perhaps is more unique is the way the tunes are passed about contrapuntally, which, modestly I could describe as quite charming (which I believe is slightly north of “pleasant”).
Not so the second movement, which is (of all things) a passacaglia in the great tradition (at least the first section). It does wander off into new thematic land for a bit, or better said, the passacaglia intervals are taken up by the upper instruments somewhat playfully... actually as preparation for the rollicking third movement.
Rollicking it is, with 16th-notes sparks flying from instrument to instrument in a language seemingly tonal but slipping off into some bizarre directions. It requires very accurate rhythmic performance, close attention to dynamics, and considerable “chops” (viola part excluded, naturellement). With a proper combination of these elements, it sounds quite exciting, even breathtaking… that is (I repeat), with each element performed with great accuracy and precision (if you don't pay too much attention to the viola...).
– W. Jay Sydeman
Note: Suitable for students and amateur musicians.