Score:

You can download the score by clicking here: –> About Bach Score

Performances:

March 19, 2016
Cluster Integrated Arts and New Music Festival, Winnipeg
Quatuor Bozzini
May 8, 2015
AngelicA Festival, Bologna (premiere)
Quatuor Bozzini

Notes:

This work was awarded the 2016 Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music, Canada’s highest honour for composition.

 

This string quartet is an expansion of a solo work for viola, commissioned by philanthropist Daniel Cooper for violist Pemi Paull. This is a piece about process, concerned specifically with Paull’s musicality, and takes as its source material a short excerpt of Chaconne from Bach’s Partita no. 2, recorded live by Paull in 2009. Using software, this phrase is meticulously transcribed to apprehend the exact rhythmic musicality of the performance, capturing artifacts produced in the process. The opening of About Bach is simply this transcribed melody, harmonized into a gently jaunty chorale. From there this chorale goes through a somewhat inaudible process that is let to run until it runs itself out, making for a constantly meandering, non-developmental piece in an extreme sense.

 

Public comments from the Jules Léger prize jury, Canada Council for the Arts, 2016:

“About Bach sustains a serene surface that is as beautiful as it is logical. The lower voices are weightless and warm; the high violin line stretches upward again and again, suspended above a quiet, circling dance, radiant and melancholy.”

“Upon reviewing the recording, the committee was speechless. The work is poignant, warm, disarming, sincere, vulnerable – a rare achievement for music of this stark architectural nature, articulated with a confident, distinctive voice. About Bach is as haunting as it is haunted.”

“Utterly mind-altering music – I feel like I should know everything about this piece all of the time, and yet its psychedelic, deturning strangeness is there from the first attack and grows even though its materials do not have to. This piece is not about Bach in the sense of somehow interpreting Bach, but rather it embraces the etymology of the word ‘about’ (from the old English ‘onbūtan’ – ‘outside of’). This music takes any relation to Bach outside.”