for the End of Time
(for violin, clarinet, cello, and piano)
*Winner, 2009 Western Michigan New Music Project*
ďQuartet for the
End of TimeĒ is loosely based off the Olivier Messiaen composition of
While my piece has a basis in tonality, it contains styles and techniques that were used by Messiaen, such as non-retrogradable rhythms, (rhythmic palindromes)
notated birdsong, and a feeling of timelessness. In addition, a few brief melodies are taken from Messiaenís piece, and the form is largely intact.
Messiaenís Quartet contained 8 movements, and my piece consists of 4 movements, with each movement being split into 2 sections.
Each of the 8
resulting segments is based on a movement of Messiaenís quartet (the
is the 4th movement,
which combines the 7th and 8th movements of the Messiaen.) I attempted to create parallels in style, form and instrumentation between the two pieces:
For example, Messiaenís 3rd movement is for solo clarinet, and my 3rd segment (the beginning of the 2nd movement) is for solo cello.
The 4th movement of Messiaenís quartet is a scherzo, and is uncharacteristically tonal and playful for the piece.
My 4th segment attempts a similar out-of-context playfulness. The 5th movement was originally for solo cello.
Mine begins with a solo violin (on the same note and duration), but adds the piano after a few measures. Like Messiaenís 6th movement,
my 6th segment features the 4 instruments in unison, frequently playing non-retrogradable rhythms (although not for the entire movement).
While I didnít
want my piece to end like Messiaenís (his piece ends with a movement of
my version ends with a manufactured unison:
all 4 instruments drift off to an A. This unison A was slowly converged upon throughout the piece, as my 1st movement ended with a final chord of F# and C#,
the 2nd movement ends with G and C, and the 3rd movement ends with G#, A# and B.
Reading session of Movement 4 by members of a well-known chamber ensemble
hear full live performance of Quartet for the End of Time