From the composer:
String Quartet #1 for quartet plus jazz guitar began after I received a request for a short setting of the jazz standard “My Funny Valentine” for a Valentine’s Day concert. This resulting quasi hip-hop arrangement was quite popular after its premiere in 2006, though, and a longer version was then commissioned along with the second movement “Misty”. At this point, I started to envision a four-movement quartet, following the standard symphonic form with jazz standards as a loose basis for each movement. While composing I tried to imagine what the classical masters might have done in my position. So I strove to write neo-classical, third stream music that follows standard form, but at the same time bends and breaks form. This quartet is truly third stream music that includes jazz improvisation as well as rock expression and hip hop rhythm at every turn. While the quartet parts do not specifically call for improvisation, they invite ornamentation and a freewheeling approach. “My Funny Valentine” follows a sonata-allegro form, followed by the slow movement “Misty”. The passionate unifying theme connects the movements and runs through the entire work. This is something like Tchaikovsky’s”fate theme”, but there is no extra-musical meaning. Shortly after I completed String Quartet #1, I also composed a three-movement String Quartet #2 in a similar style. I was initially inspired to write in a third stream style after taking part in the premiere of Encounters for symphony orchestra plus jazz big band by Gunther Schuller in 2004. To me, Schuller’s third stream music seemed more relevant than most of the odd turn-of-the-century compositional styles. Where Schuller combined jazz with avant-garde modern classical style, I went a different direction. Instead, I tried to imagine how the older classical masters might have written jazz, rock and hip-hop into their compositions. String Quartets #1 and 2 are among the first of my third stream compositions in this style. Along with these string quartets, “Kaleidoscope” and “Teleidoscope” for chamber orchestra and Concerto for solo tuba and winds are the most notable.
- Curtis Peacock
Parts included: Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Violoncello, Guitar