Elie Siegmeister & Ellis Kohs: String Quartets
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL176     Release Date: 2010-06-01

Galimir String Quartet: Felix Galimir and Marvin Morgenstern, violins; Samuel Rhodes, viola; Charles McCracken, cello

Eudice Shapiro and Nathan Ross, violins; Sanford Schonbach, viola; Gabor Rejto, cello

Of the String Quartet No. 2 recorded here, Elie Siegmeister tells us: “It was written in the summer of 1960 and first performed by the artists of the present recording at a concert of my works at Hofstra University.

“In an expressive sense, the Quartet contains those elements of energy, lyricism, and wildness that have always been part of my music, welded into a tight organic structure. The overall formal plan involves transformation of the root ideas of the first movement during the course of the two that follow. Thus the opening unison theme is metamorphosed into the secondary viola theme of the slow movement and again into what becomes the beginning of the third movement. The interweaving of such metamorphosed material throughout the quartet can be sensed by the listener who has heard the work two or three times, but complexities of structure can be discussed in detail only with score in hand. Nevertheless these same complexities, I believe, define the impact of the work as a whole and whatever challenge it may have for the listener.”

Ellis Kohs' A Short Concert for String Quartet (String Quartet No. 2) was composed in Stockton, California in 1948 when the composer was on the faculty of the Conservatory of Music at College of the Pacific. The title, according to Mr. Kohs, is intended to suggest that the work is a concert in miniature, rather than a quartet in the usual sense.

“Of the seven movements,” notes the composer, “the opening Sonata is similar in form to the classical sonata and symphony first movement: a concise exposition is followed by a very extended development, truncated recapitulation, and coda. Movements II - VI are quite short, and as a central group suggest a dance suite: the Forlane is derived from incidental music (Act IV, sc. 2) composed for a Wesleyan University (Conn.) production of Macbeth; only three instruments play in the remaining movements of the dance sequence - the second violin sitting out the Waltz, the ’cello being omitted in the Sarabande, the first violin being silent throughout the Farce, and the viola missing out on the Gigue. The final movement is a sort of tone poem: the Dreams and Recollections comprise a free association of melodic fragments derived from a variety of sources, surrounded by a mirror-like frame whose four-note motive inevitably recalls B-A-C-H. If the listener fancies he perceives an additional, allegorical significance to the title, or is led to believe the whole work is written in the style of a musical autobiography, that is his affair.”

This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available as a burn-on-demand CD (CD-R) or download in MP3/320, FLAC or WAV formats. CD-Rs come in a protective sleeve; no print booklet or jewel case included. Full liner notes are accessible via the link above.

Various Artists

Elie Siegmeister & Ellis Kohs: String Quartets

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FLAC $7.99
WAV $7.99
CD-R $7.99

Track Listing

String Quartet No. 2: I. Allegro con fuoco
Elie Siegmeister
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String Quartet No. 2: II. Larghetto molto sostenuto
Elie Siegmeister
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String Quartet No. 2: III. Allegro con spirito
Elie Siegmeister
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A Short Concert For String Quartet: I. Sonata
Ellis B. Kohs
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A Short Concert For String Quartet: II. Forlane
Ellis B. Kohs
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A Short Concert For String Quartet: III. Waltz
Ellis B. Kohs
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A Short Concert For String Quartet: IV. Sarabande
Ellis B. Kohs
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A Short Concert For String Quartet: V. Farce
Ellis B. Kohs
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A Short Concert For String Quartet: VI. Gigue
Ellis B. Kohs
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A Short Concert For String Quartet: VII. Dreams; recollections
Ellis B. Kohs
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