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A Conversation of Instruments
The New York based Enso String Quartet played at KPL on March 11 in a program made possible by Fontana Chamber Arts.
The program featured “The Art of Conversation: Seven Dialogues for String Quartet” written by Karim Al-Zand who introduced his composition and answered questions. Al-Zand wrote the piece for string quartet, which he explained is the “quintessential ensemble” for chamber music (two violins, a viola and a cello). Comprised of “agile instruments” producing “homogeneity of sound,” a string quartet “always looks like a conversation” as it performs, Al-Zand said.
Inspired by this idea of a conversation, Al-Zand composed seven dialogues, all resembling conversations among friends. The first dialogue is an idealized gathering in which everyone is lively and engaged. The other dialogues proceed in various combinations of dominance and engagement – idiosyncratic with one dominant; two conversations at once; three in sync while one speaks in nonsequitors; recitations in unison. The sixth dialogue was the equivalent of four people talking on a cell phone, with each instrument’s part was taken from other dialogues.
The seventh dialogue was a fugue — a single melody or subject passed from instrument to instrument, with each expounding on the subject. Just as with a conversation among friends, the music spiraled up, then wound down to small moments of silence before resuming to a crescendo. After a few more thoughts were added, the conversation ended harmoniously with everyone in agreement.
The seven dialogues were written especially for the Enso String Quartet, which is dedicated to performing the work of contemporary composers. It is a rare pleasure to hear a composer discuss his work and to hear a work performed by the ensemble for whom it was written.
Enso String Quartet