NIGHT SONGS FOR A DESERT FLOWER
for String Quartet
Commissioned for the Brentano String Quartet by the Harvard Musical Association and Carnegie Hall
1. Madrigal (Allegretto grazioso ed amoroso)
2. Lament (Mesto)
3. Intermezzo (Lontano, dolcissimo)
4. Rejouissance (Allegro vivace)
Night Songs for a Desert Flower is, at heart, a book of madrigals for string quartet. I began the work thinking that I would be exploring the fundamentally abstract nature of the medium, but quickly found that its intensely focused emotional qualities pushed me towards a work in which the structure of the movements was determined much more by the emotional element in the same way that the madrigal responds to the expressive demands of the text set. As in madrigal cycles, there is a drama played out here, with the main arc contained within the first three movements. The last movement offers a dance of celebration followed by a brief envoi in a coda that disappears into the night.