String Quartet in Five Movements | 2013
Duration: c. 28 minutes
Commissioned by: Spoleto Festival USA for St. Lawrence String Quartet
Instrumentation: string quartet
"This quartet is a work of considerable variety, and not just because of the historical references. The very texture of the sound changes moment by moment, with constant shifts in voicing, vibrato, harmonics, pizzicato, bowing on the bridge, and other techniques. Adams has a knack for creating stillness in his music by slowing down the harmonic rhythm and giving the players beautiful harmonies to sit with. One movement has the word “austere” in its title, but it’s not the only movement to have a certain reserved fragility about it. Bartók, who Adams didn’t mention, might be one the spiritual fathers of this lovely quartet. The SLSQ, to whom the work is dedicated, played with their customary flair and focus, delicately or robustly as needed, vanquishing any thoughts that they might be playing at less than their typical level of accomplishment."
Lisa Hirsch, SF Classical Voice
"...this is a significant work, overall, confident in its craftsmanship, evocative with its diaphanous textures, its long-lined spaciousness, its use of space and silence as essential materials. Quietly powerful and with its own vocabulary (i.e. no pulsing minimalism), it focuses the listener: The finale, “Hymn, Vanishing,” seems to arrive from some mysterious epoch."