JOHN HARBISON (b.1938): String Quartet No. 6, KENJI BUNCH (b.1973): Megalopolis for Percussion and String Quartet (Youssif Sheronick [percussion]), ANNA WEESNER (b.1954): The Eight Lost Songs of Orlando Underground for Clarinet and String Quartet (Romie de Guise-Langlois [clarinet]), ANDREW WAGGONER (b.1960): Ce morceau de tissue for 2 Quartets (original Lark Quartet).
Catalogue Number: 09V054
Description: This diverse group of quartets (of which only one is strictly a string quartet) is the result of commissions for a farewell event by the Lark Quartet after thirty years of exemplary service to many contemporary composers who have great reason to be grateful to them. Harbison's quartet consists of four movements to which the composer appends oblique program notes, which seem to suggest a kind of narrative concerning the bringing together of disparate personalities, as happens in a string quartet. In two of the movements, three instruments play as a trio, the first violin at a remove, though finally coming together in the astringently tonal work’s most consonant music. Bunch's piece is strongly rhythmic, with an energetic beat; it integrates African percussion instruments with the quartet in a celebration of urban culture across the globe. Weesner's clarinet quintet comprises eight pieces that were supposedly discovered after the death of a 'classical' music-obsessed blues guitarist, with intimate autobiographical undertones which the composer explains in a clever little biographical sketch of the fictitious personage, such as his obsession with phrases in five beats that described his personal circumstances (How you broke my heart, where'd I leave my keys, etc.). The piece contains allusions to popular and 'classical' styles and minimalism, in a readily accessible, tonal idiom. Waggoner reunites the retiring quartet with its first incarnation in an octet that sometimes functions as a double quartet that comments on the same material from different perspectives. The title comes from an essay by Moroccan feminist and sociologist Fatima Mernissi, and refers to the niqab, and the work symbolically consists of two groups of women in close dialogue, sometimes intersecting, sometimes at odds, and sometimes, in episodes of great sonorous, harmonically consonant, beauty, in complete agreement. Lark Quartet.