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String Quartet No. 1


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String Quartet

Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, and cello
Duration: 22 minutes
Premiere: Colorado String Quartet, 1990, New York
Recorded by: Sejong Soloists (Frank Huang, Wayne Lin, violins, Beth Guterman, viola, Ole Akahoshi) on Naxos label (8.570353)
Score: published by Theodore Presser Company # 114-40902
Set of parts (#114-40902P)
Full Score- Large (#114-40902S)
Movements: I. Maestos(6.5")
                     II. Adagio cantabile (7.5")
                     III. Alegro (7")

Audio Samples:

I. Maestoso
II. Adagio cantabile
III. Allegro




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String Quartet
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About String Quartet:

I have always been fascinated by how string quartets can express a wide range of ideas and emotions.  In this quartet, my intent was to explore the conflicted and driven nature of life in the first movement, dreams and the subconscious in the second, and rituals and ceremonies (presented in a complex dance) in the final movement.

My quartet begins with a 5-note motif, played in unison that permeates melodically and harmonically throughout the movement.  The energetic and hard-driven character of the second musical idea propels the music forward with fast moving notes and great urgency. It often alternates with a more lyrical rendition of the 5-note motif, yielding contrasting sections.  After a brief coda, the 5-note motif concludes the movement much the same way it had begun, but with greater intensity.

 The second movement explores the world of fantasy.  To some extent the beginning and the ending of the movement function as the opening and closing doors that separate reality from dreams and the subconscious. It is one continuous movement in an arch form that gradually accelerates to an expansive emotional climax and returns steadily to the surface led by an ethereal solo cello.  The transcendent ending recalls the beginning.

 The third movement begins boldly with the 5-note motif transformed into a dance character in a compound meter.  The asymmetrical meter of Persian folk music influences much of the rhythmic character of the movement.  The return of many materials from earlier movements interwoven into the fabric of this movement reinforces the cyclical and organic character of the quartet. A mysterious passage in particular, reminiscent of the second movement, leads to a brief ballad—this is a favorite moment of mine. A blazingly virtuosic viola leads the quartet to an uplifting conclusion.

 My string quartet was completed in 1988.



"Ranjbaran would be a worthy successor [to Bartok]….Each of the three movements crackles with distinct character. The intense drama in each builds not just on volume and activity, but also on well-conceived harmonies that create and release tension…. I could feel its coherence and its substance."
-Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Like Bartok, Ranjbaran grasps the old Greek concept of catharsis to its core and achieves it in emotionally ambitious music."
-Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinelt






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