Stephen Hartke

Beyond Words

BEYOND WORDS (2001) Ricercar for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano Commissioned by the Opus One Piano Quartet, the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society, and the Cleveland Chamber Music Society Duration: 14 minutes Beyond Words was composed between October 22 and December 4, 2001 and thus in the immediate aftermath of the unspeakable events of September 11th. Rarely have I found it so difficult to work on a piece but rarely has it seemed so absolutely imperative that I do so. As the opening material began to take shape, I found that certain turns of phrase echoed the beginning of Thomas Tallis' setting of the first verses of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, which, of course are concerned with a catastrophe befalling a great city. Therefore, I decided to go a step further and to pattern the entire single movement piece on the Tallis. Each of its six sections corresponds in general texture and affect to a section of the model and certain of Tallis' motives have been absorbed into my melodic lines. One important aspect of the piece does not stem from the Tallis, however, and that is the role of the piano, which appears at first as high, crystalline chords interrupting the flow of the strings' polyphony. It is as if the piano were in shock and unable to participate with the others, but gradually it is drawn into the discourse and becomes a full partner in the concluding pages of the work 
Recording: Opus One Piano Quartet Bridge Records 9271 A/D