Such a fascinating set of works! I can't wait to hear more of them!
—Violinist, Jennifer Koh
Quartet No. 2 in D Minor,
Quartet No. 2;"Codex Janus"
Janus is an ancient Roman god, worshipped since c.800 B.C.E. His first known temple had been by constructed by an edict of Numa Pompilius in 753 B.C.E. Janus’ worship lasted until shortly after a forbidding edict of Emperor Theodosius in 390 A.D.
Janus is known as the god of opposites— particularly of beginnings and endings, war and peace, future and past, and serious and jocund. He was believed to have command over these polarities.
Being god of opposites, he is depicted with two faces forever gazing in opposite directions. As
Janus also commands coronal transitions, the Julian Calendar (45 B.C.E.) which we use today, eponymously appropriated his name for their first month— “(Janu)ary.”
Being devoted to contrasting dualities, stark shifts in mood, and the transitions
between them, this quartet has also been named in honor of Janus. Whether the heavy and serious Grave in minor followed immediately by the jocund Scherzo in major, or the densely complex texture of the first and last movements being contrasted with a largely homophonic, light, all-pizzicati movement in between, Janaus' character dominates this work.
The whole work closes with the same theme with which it opened. However, to nuance of opposites once more, the theme which opens high in the violin is transcribed to the lower range of the cello in the end.
• MOVEMENT 1: Grave: Opens immediately with the two-measure theme in the first violin, lightly accompanied by pizzicati in the viola and cello. Initially feeling in 6/8, the meter segues into a stable 3/4 with the establishment of a V7(b9) harmony, the tendency chord of the Middle-Eastern Hijaz (Phrygian) mode. This sonority is featured in the development, and returns to accompany the theme, again, before its transition into the Scherzo. Within the Grave closing, the cello commences a rhythmic motif of dotted-quarter and 3- eighths, thereby dividing 3/4 into 3/8 + 3/8, which segues back into the initial 6/8, only now for the Scherzo.
SCHERZO: Introduced by a building pivot chord above a quasi-waltz obbligato in the cello, we modulate to "IV" for the scherzo. Within this G tonicization, however, a recurring N6 / V retains the desired resolution of the old key in simultaneity. Truncated, and at double-tempo, the theme is repeated in rapid succession, and thus remains omnipresent throughout, both, the Grave and Scherzo. At the golden mean of the scherzo, Theme-A returns in full for the final time. Thereafter, it is fragmented and metrically syncopated over a Dorian circle of fifths. This quotes Mahler's 1st symphony consistently in the cello, though at times, in Violin 2.
• MOVEMENT 2: Adagio: Juxtaposed to the dense Grave and Scherzo, the Adagio yields rhythmic simplicity, and harmonic stability. Melodically it features second-species counterpoint, and homophony with contrapuntal enlivening. Jocund in mood, the 2nd movement aims to move the listener to a place akin to the eye of a storm, between two serious and dense movements.
Notably, it features new and extended techniques— instruments lain across the lap, to facilitate the rapid and complex chordal pizzicati. Violin 1 uses what I call “unghia pizzicato”— “fingernail plucking.” This allows pitches between C6 and F6 to speak better.
• MOVEMENT 3: Allegro Moderato: The final movement takes material from the Grave, Scherzo, and Adagio. While its theme is entirely its own, and in 4/4, is often accompanied by the 3/4 theme of the first movement. This first occurs in measure five with the entrance of the cello. Like the end of a concerto, the final movement features an accompanied “quasi-cadenza” from both the violin 1, and later the viola. After this, the tempo continues to accelerate, event-by-event, until the final 3 chords, each pivoting from V/iv to I. The final I chord holds a picardy third, which leaves some ambiguity to hear it, again, as a V/iv.
Quartet No. 1 in D Minor, "The Gilgmesh Quartet"
Movements 1 - 3
Caprice No. 14
"The Neo-Appalachian Caprice"
The Star-Spangled Banner
for 5 Violins
The Dr. Abraham 24 Caprices for Solo Violin
Brahms Violin Concerto Cadenza
Piano Sonata No. 1
The Time Traveler's Sonata