Old environmental program 2 notes

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh’s "Oasis" begins with layers of pizzicatos emulating the sound of raindrops. The plucking builds into an ongoing rhythm not unlike that of hand drums. The atmosphere evokes that of a desert camp. In John Luther Adams’s ethereal string quartet, The Wind in High Places, each of its three movements is named after a location in the Alaskan wilderness. More than just sound pictures depicting a place, each movement also attempts to capture the essence of memories from those locations. The work is performed entirely on open strings and natural overtone harmonics.

“I’ve long been enamored with the ethereal tones of Aeolian harps — instruments that draw their music directly from the wind. The Wind in High Places treats the string quartet as a large, 16-stringed harp. All the sounds in the piece are produced as natural harmonics or on open strings. Over the course of almost 20 minutes, the fingers of the musicians never touch the fingerboards of the instruments. If I could’ve found a way to make this music without them touching the instruments at all, I would have.” —  John Luther Adams

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen writes: “In 1986 I wrote Ground for the Kronos Quartet. I used the principle of the baroque ground and created a series of chords – going up and going down symmetrically. The material formed the basis for the quartet. In my next collaboration with Kronos I wrote the darker Last Ground – at the time supposed to be my last composition of the kind.” We are then brought back to the natural beauty of the Haydn. Joseph Haydn’s Op. 76 No. 4 quartet suggests an Arcadian ideal of natural beauty. The opening evokes a sunrise, giving the work it’s nickname, musically paving the way for an optimistic and promising future. Where Haydn’s quartet paints an idealized portrait, Kurt Rohde’s new work “seeking all that's still unsung” asks us to examine the quality of our relationships with the world around us, and face uncomfortable truths and the increasing fragility of life on earth.

“seeking all that's still unsung” listens to the rapidly changing outside sonic natural world and brings that ‘inside.’ An interior mirroring of the sounds that surround us, and that we take for granted, it documents in music the gradual disappearance and extinction of songs that will never be sung again.” — Kurt Rohde, 2019.