Voyages for string quartet
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Though not originally conceived nor written to be a programmatic work, the title for this string quartet was inspired by several literal and figurative journeys that were undertaken by the composer during the period in which the piece was composed. The first and most overt meaning refers to several odysseys through the Balkans and Central Europe that the composer made with his wife, a native of Bulgaria.
The first movement is based upon a short melodic fragment that is heard on the trams of Budapest, Hungary at every stop. This motive is then blended with the asymmetrical meters typical of Bulgarian folk music to provide the organic basis for the entire movement.
The second movement takes its subtitle “Winter sings its evil song” from a poem by the Bulgarian nationalist poet and revolutionary Hristo Botev. The poem from which this line is derived is a narrative that describes the hanging of the national hero Vassil Levski at the hands of the Ottomans in 1873.
The second possible interpretation of the subtitle could refer to a severe personal injury that the suffered during the writing of this work. In this light, the slow-fast-slow movement scheme could be seen as a representation of the journey from health to injury and then back to health again.
II. winter sings its evil song… (mm=76)