Envision (2007) - Belinda Reynolds
for Baroque string quartet
Commissioned by the Galax Quartet;
Premiered March 2007 -- Oakland, CA
ENVISION was commissioned by the Galax Baroque String quartet as part of their finale concert for the 2007-08 “Music that Cooks” concert season, which raises funds for the First Congressional Presbyterian Church’s food program for the homeless community in Oakland, CA. The title comes from how I ‘envisioned’ using a musical structure borrowed from Baroque Music, that of the Chaconne. The Chaconne is usually a bass line or harmonic progression that repeats again and again throughout a piece. Since I had been analyzing some of Bach’s Chaconne with my students, I took the opportunity to do my contemporary ‘envision’ of what one can do with a chaconne. From the start, one will hear in ENVISION the strings playing the chord progression I use. However, as the piece progresses, it takes a few ‘side-turns’ as the music explores only segments of the chord progression, or only one of the chords. This is all done through the prism of the opening melodic structure, which, like the harmony, recurs again and again, but in altered forms not traditionally associated with Baroque music.
ENVISION also refers to the license I give the players in choosing much of the articulations of the piece. As Early Music players are so expert in interpretation and realization of scores that often have minimal or no dynamics or articulations I let Galax ‘envision’ how they felt the piece could be played through their musical decisions in the shaping of the phrasing and texture. For me, this is one of the most satisfying aspects of writing for such instruments and such players. I wish to especially thank Roy Whelden, composer and gambist and founder of the Galax, for his ‘envisioning’ of my ability to write for his ensemble. Special thanks also goes to Galax musicians David Wilson, Joseph Edelberg, and David Morris. Without their input and high level of musicality this piece would not have the refinement and grace I feel it now has. For all their work, I am eternally grateful.