Photos from the 2019 Sirius Quartet performance at the DiMenna Center, New York NY



IAN Erickson

öðlo originated from two chords and a love of dissonance, both rhythmic and harmonic. This piece is an installment in a five movement work— ‘an interchangeable collection for string quartet.’


This collection has served as an opportunity for exploration and experimentation. Each movement utilizes the same two chords as öðlo to create and develop five individual worlds. öðlo examines the relationship between the source material and the natural open tuning of the quartet. Each title carries no definition, but were chosen based solely on the aesthetic look and sound of their phonetic pronunciation. This particular movement, öðlo, is pronounced oh-thlo, using the Old English/Icelandic letter ð, or, eth.


Since every movement shares a strong common thread, their organization is fluid, and I encourage performers to arrange the movements as they see fit— selecting however many, or few, they would like to perform. Through this interaction, each performance may bring its own unique interpretation of these works. — Ian Erickson


String Quartet #3

Marga Richter

My String Quartet #3 was written in August 2012 at my summer home in Vermont. One day as I was staring at my inspiring mountain view where not a single leaf or pine needle was moving, the utter stillness inspired me to try to express this total stasis in music. The first movement of the quartet is the result.


The second movement grew out of extreme emotional turmoil culminating, mid point, in a stark, terrifying premonition of irreparable loss and of staring into the abyss. It ends with a quiet five-note supplication, first introduced in the opening bars and permeating the entire movement in various guises, repeated five times.


The third movement has four components:

A. - A lyrical opening theme

B. - Lively, energetic passage-work combined in due course with the opening theme disguised as a Waltz against the prevailing 6/8 meter

C. - A bizarre Tango/March

D. A fantasy-like inclusion of the final section of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” in 3/4, with each phrase followed by a disrupting snippet from Antonio Solar’s Fandango. A brief coda marked ethereal ends the work. — Marga Richter


Images by Paul Klee

Jennifer Castellano

The 20th-Century Swiss artist Paul Klee was a musician for most of his life, often practicing the violin as a warm-up for painting. He saw analogies between music and visual art, such as the expressive power of color being related to that of musical timbre.


Images by Paul Klee was completed in Spring 2008 during Castellano’s graduate studies at Purchase College, SUNY and consists of three movements, each carrying the title of one of Klee’s paintings: “Twittering Machine,” “Dream City,” and “Fugue in Red.” The string quartet is based on a 12-tone row used in its original form, inversion, retrograde, and retrograde inversion. The work also explores timbre by instructing performers to play using different parts of the bow and playing either closer or further away from the bridge.


Klee’s “Twittering Machine” (1922) depicts a group of birds on a wire or branch connected to a hand-crank. Some have interpreted this work as representing a music box. The first movement of the string quartet presents the type of music that Castellano thinks the twittering machine might play. Rhythmic percussive sections alternate with lyrical, mysterious sections to depict the expressive singing of the birds and rhythmic nature of a machine.


In “Dream City” (1921) Klee creates a wondrous imaginary world which has a musical “feel” to it. Because of Castellano’s love of dreams, this work served as inspiration for the second movement. In the ABA form, the second movement is calm and mysterious.


“Fugue in Red” (1911) consists of similar images that are presented in layers, suggesting imitative counterpoint. The color red thus becomes the visual equivalent to tonality. Although this rhythmic composition completely abandons the use of conventional harmony, the tonality is implied by the three repeating notes at the beginning of the fugal subject. — Jennifer Castellano


String Quartet #1

Brian Field

String Quartet #1 explores rhythmic and melodic evolution over the course of four movements.


The first movement highlights rapidly changing meters and introduces triplet and duplet motifs that subsequently evolve. The second movement is more meditative, simplifying and slowing some of the rocking rhythms of first, and highlighting a three-note motif that generates the main theme of the third movement. The triple-over-duple rhythms of the third movement are also developments of the triple-duple rhythms of the piece’s opening. The final moment is a rollicking, fast finale that focuses on the triple-note theme. — Brian Field


sneak into the Q City

Mari Tamaki

In this piece entitled sneak into the Q City, Japanese composer and cellist Mari Tamaki takes modern instrumental music to a new level of excellence.


Mari Tamaki composed this work, which is inspired by the Japanese painter Iori Mamiya’s piece entitled sneak into the Q City. He created the art based on the concept of his ‘mind- trip,’ in which his mind travels to his brain by entering via his eyes and looking around in his brain. His thoughts and memories are completely entangled with each other in his brain. In her work, Tamaki expresses its complexity from the beginning to G.P.. After G.P., she expresses that his mind gets out again from his brain via his eyes and is once again looking at the world outside. In contrast to the complicated world inside, the world outside is beautiful and peaceful. Tamaki wanted to express that his mind realizes the world outside is the place to exist and live.


Iori Mamiya says that the letter Q has three meanings; Quest, Quantum, and Quiet, and it’s expressed in this piece.


sneak into the Q City skillfully transitions from a feeling of tense dissonance to one of complete harmony in the end. Tamaki employs a lyrical style, highlighting dissonant chords. What is most impressive, however, is how astonishingly expressive her music is. It’s a pure joy to listen to. — Mari Tamaki



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