The Juilliard String Quartet: Robert Mann, violin; Earl Carlyss, violin; Samuel Rhodes, viola; Joel Krosnick, cello
This quartet, my first in thirty years, was completed on August 25, 1983. It was commissioned by the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation for the Juilliard Quartet, to celebrate their twentieth anniversary as quartet-in- residence at the Library of Congress.
The four movements of the work are played without pause. While the first three movements are roughly analogous to the traditional sonata, rondo, and variation forms respectively, the fourth movement is more difficult to label. At first it seems to be trying to find a resolution to the problem of summarizing previous arguments. Two subsequent sections propose alternate solutions. But the ultimate solution is found in music reminiscent of the Andante cantabile in Movement III.
— Donald Martino
My First Quartet (1978) was commissioned by the Juilliard Quartet and the Joslyn Art Museum of Omaha, Nebraska. It received its premiere there on March 11, 1979. The work is dedicated to the memory of Sarah H. Joslyn...
Expressively, the piece proceeds from simplicity and repose to their opposites. The work is open-ended in the sense that it ends in a completely different psychological place from where it began. In fact, it has a sequel: the Second String Quartet (1982), which continues and completes the expanding variational process. Consequently, the First Quartet is both a complete piece in itself and the first half of a larger work.
This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available for order 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).