Samuel Adler: String Quartets
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR608     Release Date: 2007-01-01

Meliora Quartet: [Ian Swenson, violin; Calvin Wiersma, violin; Maria Lambros, viola; Elizabeth Anderson, cello]; Cleveland Quartet: [Donald Weilerstein, violin; Peter Salaff, violin; Atar Arad, viola; Paul Katz, cello]; Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano; Fine Arts Quartet: [Leonard Sorkin, violin; Abram Loft, violin; Bernard Zaslav, viola; George Sopkin, cello]


In 1963, one of my very close friends was tragically killed in an automobile accident; her name was Marjory Fulton-Harrell, a famous violinist (mother of cellist Lynn Harrell) and a colleague of mine at North Texas State University. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra asked me to write a short work in her memory for its next concert, meaning: the piece would have to be composed in one day. Thinking about this task, I remembered the slow movement of my Third String Quartet and felt it had the kind of mood that a memorial piece should express. I examined it and decided to recompose the basic ideas into a short Elegy for string orchestra.

After the performance of the Elegy and its success as a string orchestra composition, my interest was aroused to reexamine the other movements and possibly re-write the Third Quartet after so many years. I have to admit it was a fun project. Though I tried to keep the same style as the earlier version, much was altered and the piece was closer to my liking. Except for the slow movement, Elegy, the work is light and exuberant throughout. ...

I have been very fortunate, indeed, to have been asked to write works for some of our leading string quartets and each group naturally suggests a particular type of music to me. Since 1976, I have enjoyed the music making of the Cleveland Quartet since they are colleagues of mine at the Eastman School. Therefore, when I composed my String Quartet No. 7 for the Quartet, I was greatly influenced by the kind of sounds, the wonderful energy, and the exquisite lyricism which I have come to love in their performances...

While on leave in Vienna in 1975, I read a great deal of poetry before I reread Walt Whitman whose work I have always loved but never set. Perhaps it was my temporary status of expatriate that made his strong images and hopeful language even more vivid and exciting, and made me finally decide to attempt a setting in my String Quartet No. 6. The quartet was commissioned by the Fine Arts Music Foundation for Jan DeGaetani and the Fine Arts Quartet who premiered the work in Chicago on May 9, 1977. The four poems in this work are from a set called “Whispers of Heavenly Death” which appears in Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Throughout, I attempted to keep the vocal line lyrical, trying at all times to picture the strength and meaning of the text.
- Samuel Adler


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).

Various Artists

Samuel Adler: String Quartets

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Track Listing

String Quartet No. 3: I. Allegro
Samuel Adler
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String Quartet No. 3: II. Adagio
Samuel Adler
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String Quartet No. 3: III. Allegro scherzando
Samuel Adler
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String Quartet No. 3: IV. Allegro vivo
Samuel Adler
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String Quartet No. 7: I. Fast and very intense
Samuel Adler
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String Quartet No. 7: II. Slowly and gracefully
Samuel Adler
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String Quartet No. 7: III. Fast and very rhythmic
Samuel Adler
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String Quartet No. 6 - A Whitman Serenade
Samuel Adler
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