Cowell: Homage to Iran; 3 Quartets
Leopold Avakian violin; Mitchell Andrews piano; Basil Bahar Persian drum;
Beaux Arts String Quartet: Gerald Tarack and Alan Martin violins, Jacob Glick viola, Bruce Rogers, cello


The first and third movements of Henry Cowell's Homage to Iran are both marked Tempo rubato and they share the character of an intense improvisatory chant for the violin, over a hypnotic ostinato from the drum. Piano and violin are equal partners in the second movement, Interlude, which is a brilliant running toccata, Presto, in 2/4. The last movement, Con spirito, begins as a set of dance variations in which
7/8 alternates with 9/8. The drum is heard only briefly, during a slower middle episode, 12/8- 13/8. The piece ends with a return of the dance variations with which the fourth movement began, and a spirited coda.

The Movement for String Quartet, or String Quartet No. 2, was actually the first of Cowell’s works for four strings playable under conventional circumstances, its predecessor’s rhythms having been so tightly organized around its harmonic ratios that it was humanly unplayable in those pre- electronic days (1915).

The first movement of the Mosaic Quartet is chorale-like, the second a pizzicato ostinato; the third is a rubato cello recitative under a continual slow glissando from the other strings; the fourth movement suggests a “valse oubliée” (but in 5/8 instead of 3/4) and the fifth movement is a closely-woven conversation among the players. The Beaux Arts Quartet has chosen to play the movements in the order I-II-IV-III-IV-V.

Cowell’s United Quartet (1936) was his most elaborate attempt, up to that time, to integrate musical materials and techniques of whose stylistic disparity he was entirely aware, but of whose relationship in terms of pure music he was convinced. This preoccupation was not new with him, but the United Quartet uses more different kinds of ideas together, combined in a rather more obvious way, than before. This was Cowell’s response to the music-for-the-people movement then prevalent. He was trying in his own way to widen the appeal of contemporary music, broadening the sources of his materials by using types of musical patterns common to many people; but he was trying also to avoid the trap inherent in “popular” music, which deliberately produces only familiar types of music as far as it can.


This title from the CRI LP back catalog has been carefully transferred from the original master tape, and is now available from New World Records as an on-demand CD (CD-R). It can also be downloaded in MP3/320, FLAC and/or WAV format(s).

We have preserved the original CRI LP catalog number for this title, preceded by the prefix NWCRL, to distinguish previously unavailable back catalog titles from those later reissued by CRI on compact disc.

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Beaux Arts String Quartet

Cowell: Homage to Iran; 3 Quartets

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FLAC $9.99
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Track Listing

Homage to Iran: I. Andante rubato
Henry Cowell
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Homage to Iran: II. Interlude
Henry Cowell
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Homage to Iran: III. Andante rubato
Henry Cowell
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Homage to Iran: IV. Con spirito
Henry Cowell
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Quartet No. 3 - Mosaic: I. Largo legato
Henry Cowell
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Quartet No. 3 - Mosaic: II. Allegro
Henry Cowell
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Quartet No. 3 - Mosaic: IV. Allegretto staccato
Henry Cowell
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Quartet No. 3 - Mosaic: III. Andante
Henry Cowell
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Quartet No. 3 - Mosaic: IV. Allegretto staccato (reprise)
Henry Cowell
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Quartet No. 3 - Mosaic: V. Allegro non troppo
Henry Cowell
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Movement for String Quartet (Quartet No. 2)
Henry Cowell
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Quartet No. 4 - United Quartet: I. Allegro
Henry Cowell
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Quartet No. 4 - United Quartet: II. Andante con moto
Henry Cowell
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Quartet No. 4 - United Quartet: III. Andante
Henry Cowell
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Quartet No. 4 - United Quartet: IV. Allegretto
Henry Cowell
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Quartet No. 4 - United Quartet: V. Tempo di marcia
Henry Cowell
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