Karel Husa

String Quartet No. 4 ("Poems")

Ezra Laderman

String Quartet No. 7

Mel Powell

String Quartet (1982)

The Colorado Quartet

Karel Husa

Karel Husa, Pulitzer Prize winner in Music, is an internationally known composer and conductor and the Kappa Alpha professor at Cornell University, where he has taught since 1945. An American citizen since 1959, Husa was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia on August 7, 1921. After completing studies at the Prague Conservatory and Academy of Music, he went to Paris, France where he received diplomas from the National Conservatory and Ecole Normale de Musique. Among his teachers were Arthur Honegger, Nadia Boulanger, Jaroslav Ridky, and conductor Andre Cluytens.

His 3rd String Quartet received the 1969 Pulitzer Prize, and with over 7000 performances, his Music for Prague 1968 has become part of the modern repertory. His Concerto for Wind Ensemble received the first Sudler International Prize. The Concerto for Orchestra was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta and premiered in 1986, and the Concerto for Trumpet was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony and Sir Georg Solti, who premiered it with soloist Adolph Herseth in Chicago. Other works include the Concerto for Organ (1987) premiered by Karel Paukert and Concerto for Violoncello (1988), premiered by Lynn Harrell. Recordings of Husa's music have been issued by CBS Masterworks, Vox, Everest, Louisville, CRI and others.

String Quartet No. 4

String Quartet No. 4 ("Poems") was commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts for the consortium of Colorado, Blair and Alard Quartets. The work was completed in the spring of 1990 in Ithaca, New York. A collection of six poems, the String Quartet No. 4 explores possibilities of unusual sonorities in a virtuosic writing. The individual poems speak of Bells, Sunlight, Darkness, Hope, Wild Birds, and Freedom, and are performed without interruption. The String Quartet No. 4 ("Poems") was performed for the first time by the Colorado Quartet at the International Jánacek Music Festival in Brno, Czechoslovakia on October 12, 1991.

Ezra Laderman

Ezra Laderman was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 29, 1924, and now divides his time between Teaneck, New Jersey, and Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where his wife, Dr. Aimlee Laderman, is a limnologist at the Marine Biological Laboratory. Laderman studied composition with Stefan Wolpe, with Miriam Gideon at Brooklyn College, and with Otto Luening and Douglas Moore at Columbia University. He has taught at Sarah Lawrence College and at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he also held the position of composer-in-residence. He has received three Guggenheim fellowships (1955, 1958, 1964) and the Rome Prize (1963), and had residencies at the Bennington Composers Conference and at the American Academy in Rome.

Laderman's compositions range from solo instrumental and vocal works to large-scale choral and orchestral music. His eight string quartets, Double Quartet, and his concertos for piano, violin, viola, cello, flute, string quartet and double winds are notable contributions to the repertory. He has also written music to the Academy Award-winning films The Eleanor Roosevelt Story and Black Fox. Commissions have come from the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Denver Symphony, Houston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, CBS-TV (the oratorio Galileo) and the Library of Congress, in addition to commissions from such distinguished artists as Jean-Pierre Rampal, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Judith Raskin, Elmar Oliviera, Julius Baker and Robert Bloom, Nathaniel Rosen, Toby Appel, Leonard Arner, Eugene List, Erica Morini, Samuel Baron; and the Lenox, Audubon, Composers, Alard, Colorado, and Blair Quartets. Laderman has been the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts composer-librettist program, president of the American Music Center, director of the music program of the National Endowment for the Arts, president of the National Music Council, chairman of the American Composers Orchestra, and Dean of Yale School of Music.

String Quartet No. 7

When Lucy Mann of the Naumburg Foundation requested a new work for the Colorado quartet in 1983, Laderman thought the proposal over for about a week, and it was during this time that he realized that his Quartet No. 6 could be the first work in a triptych. He felt ready now to take the same material he had used in No. 6, music inspired by four youthful personalities, and place it "in the midst of life," as he says.

The four-note head-motive of No. 6 strides out again at the beginning of No. 7 only now it is inverted, so that it reaches muscularly upward. Its entrances overlap in stretto, as if the piece were beginning in the middle of its development section. As in No. 6, five vivid ideas follow each other rapidly: the striving motive; a cool, poised waltz; a soft rush of chromatic sixteenth notes, vibrating with energy; static, maybe ominous, throbbing chords; and a sort of Hungarian cafe tune over an ironic walking bass. These combine energetically, like persons in their prime, pausing only for a reflective Andantino section at mid-movement, where they appear in augmentation (slowed down). A

vigorous recapitulation follows, only to be cut short by triple-fortissimo exclamations over a moaning phrase in the viola. Almost before one knows what has happened, this extroverted work has transformed itself into a dirge over a steady, dead-march rhythm. The striving motive has become a long, tonal melody in the viola, desolate, its calm as much a matter of shock as of resignation to fate. With this sudden loss "in the midst of life," the quartet ends.

Mel Powell

Mel Powell has been the recipient of many honors and awards, among them the 1990 Pulitzer Prize in Music, the 1989 Creative Arts Medal from Brandeis University, Honorary Life Membership in the Schoenberg Institute, a commission from the Library of Congress, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a grant award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. A renowned teacher of composition, he was the founding dean of the School of Music at CalArts, and from 1972-76 served as provost of the Institute. Previously he had been chair of the composition faculty of Yale University, having succeeded his own teacher, Paul Hindemith. At Yale, Powell founded the Electronic Music Studio, one of the first to be established in the United States. With Milton Babbitt and Aaron Copland, he became a founding editor of Perspectives of New Music and for many years he was contributing editor of the Journal of Music Theory. Recordings of several of Powell's compositions have been issued by Nonesuch.

String Quartet 1982

The String Quartet 1982 was composed for the Composers String Quartet, the Sequoia String Quartet, and the Thouvenel String Quartet under a consortium commission from the National Endowment for the Arts, which commissioned this quartet and quartets by Milton Babbitt and Elliott Carter. It is played through as a single movement with clearly differentiated subdivisions. Running time is about 11 minutes. The structure is depicted in this graphic analog:

That is, beginning in medias res, a gnarled kaleidoscopic confusion unwinds; and at the very end there is a brief reflection of the opening. The handful of elements rotated among the players renders the individual parts both independent and equivalent, while no repetition of any measure occurs throughout the work.

An overall progression from greater to lesser multiplicity is carried out in diverse terms and on several levels. Most conspicuous in this regard is the textural reduction from tangles at the opening to unisonous assertions near the close. Through other, formally analogous means, the principal sections within themselves mirror that progression.

The String Quartet 1982 is an instance of modular composition. This is the venerable genre that houses composers' unigenous compulsions. Over the centuries, sustaining an art at the opposite pole from mindlessness, it has fostered processes and principles of organization such as isorhythm, fugue, passacaglia, theme and variation, twelve-tone composition, multi-dimensional set techniques, and so on. Listeners who enjoy a nodding (while staying awake) acquaintance with such musical thought may discern, even on first hearing, the interplay of the generic and the idiosyncratic in the present case.

Preliminary sketches had outlined a multi-movement work running about 35 minutes. Traces remain in the form of the present subdivisions. But the early drafts were soon threatening a span of time for performance resembling that of the uncut Ring. At last all was compacted, drastically, in the light of Frans Hemsterhuis's famous definition of The Beautiful as the greatest number of ideas in the shortest space of time.

What remains (beautiful or not) confronts the players with a substantial array of challenges. This occasion, then, marks a moment appropriate for celebrating the presence among us of these extraordinary performing artists.

The Colorado Quartet

Julie Rosenfeld, violin · Deborah Redding, violin

Francesca Martin Silos, viola ·Diane Chaplin, cello

The Colorado Quartet, at the forefront of the international music scene since winning both the Naumburg Chamber Music Award and First Prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition in 1983, enjoys a reputation for combining musical integrity, impassioned playing and lyrical finesse. The Quartet's performances are remarkable for their intensity and virtuosity, displaying a unique versatility in a broad and challenging repertoire from Haydn to Husa.

Based in the New York City area, the Colorado Quartet appears regularly in major halls around the globe. Highlights of their career include tours of more than 20 countries, New York concerts in Carnegie Hall and on the Great Performers at Lincoln Center series, appearances at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center and at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and performances at festivals in Scandinavia, the Czech Republic, the Canary Islands, and at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico. In 1995, the Colorado Quartet commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of Béla Bartók with the first complete performance of the Bartók String Quartets to take place in Philadelphia.

The Quartet, collaborating frequently with today's leading composers, has been the catalyst for a number of important new works, and has received grants for the performance and recording of contemporary music from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Aaron Copland Music Fund. The Colorado Quartet has been featured on radio and television worldwide, with numerous radio broadcasts in America, England and Canada, as well as television programs in The Netherlands, Norway, Puerto Rico, Peru and Mexico. Their recordings include works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and contemporary composers on the Fidelio, Parnassus, Albany, CRI and Mode labels.

The members of the Colorado Quartet are inspiring and well-respected teachers, and have held residencies at Swarthmore and Skidmore

Colleges, Philadelphia's New School of Music and Amherst College in Massachusetts. They are founders and Artistic Directors of the Soundfest Chamber Music Festival and Quartet Institute in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and are participants in an innovative adult audience education project, thanks to a major grant from The Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Arts Partners Program.

This recording is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

Engineer: Eugene Kimball; Production Assistant: Kyra Philippi

The recording was made at Sprague Hall, Yale University on June 5, 6 and 7, 1995.

Karel Husa's String Quartet No. 4 is published by Associated Music Publishers. Ezra Laderman's String Quartet No. 7 and Mel Powell's String Quartet (1982) are published by G. Schirmer, Inc.

Cover art by John Martin. Photo of The Colorado Quartet by Christian Steiner.

The Colorado Quartet

left to right:

Diane Chaplin, cello · Julie Rosenfeld, violin

Deborah Redding, violin · Francesca Martin Silos, viola

Karel Husa

String Quartet No. 4 ("Poems") (21:00)

I. Maestoso ("Bells")

II. Allegro ("Sunlight")

III. Grave ("Darkness")

IV. Adagio ("Hope")

V. Allegro risoluto ("Wild Birds")

VI. Adagio ("Freedom")

Ezra Laderman

String Quartet No. 7 (22:11)

Mel Powell

String Quartet (1982) (14:35)

The Colorado Quartet

Julie Rosenfeld, violin · Deborah Redding, violin

Francesca Martin Silos, viola · Diane Chaplin, cello

Total Time = 57:46