Art: Arias & Interludes ... Commedia Dell'arte For String Quartet (1996, rev. 1997)

Thomas Oboe Lee

About this work:

Commissioned by the Artaria Quartet of Boston.


This work, ART: arias & interludes (1996), commissioned by the Artaria Quartet of Boston, is in five movements with connecting "solo" interludes featuring each member of the Quartet. Each movement attempts to evoke the personality of a stock character from the Italian commedia dell'arte all'improviso.

[Curtain.] The insufferable Pulcinella is musically represented by a mad polka in the first movement. According to Stravinsky, the Pulcinella he saw, which inspired his Pergolesi-kleptomania, was "a drunken lout whose every gesture was obscene."

The teary, sad sack Pierrot is portrayed in the Largo of the second movement. Musically, it is a lament/meditation on the tension between the major and the minor triad.

Harlequin is irrepressible in his hyperactive antics in the third and quasi-scherzo middle movement. He actually tries, through pantomime, to make us believe that he can fly. And he succeeds in the end only to find himself stuck up there on the ceiling!!!

The ballerina Colombine dances a delirious waltz in the fourth. Dizzy from triple and quadruple pirouettes, sometimes lop-sided and almost out-of-control, she finally sits down ...

In the fifth and final movement, the old goat Pantaloon shuffles across the stage in his Turkish slippers dancing to a Latin-disco beat, and drifts off into the sunset. [Curtain.]

Year composed: 1996
Duration: 00:25:00
Ensemble type: Unspecified Instrument(s):Ensemble
Instrumentation: 2 Violin, 1 Viola, 1 Cello
Instrumentation notes: String Quartet

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