Engineered by Jeff Cline
Total playing time 54:33
Available from Horizon Records ($9.98)
Available directly from me ($12.00)
Quartet #1, "Brieflets" (1989)
I. Fidgeting An audience member, racked with boredom, struggles to get comfortable in his seat (perhaps during this piece...), and is only occasionally engaged by sounds from the stage.
II. Mourning A child grieves for a lost pet.
III. Badgering A woman, frustrated by her husband's inattentiveness, whines and nags. The man, from behind his newspaper, responds mostly with grunts.
IV. Panicking An earnest and very nervous young musician waits for an audition.
Quartet #2, The "Nautical" (1991, rev. 1995)
I. Pegleg He is in charge, but he's a buffoon and not generally an attractive guy. He's unkempt, the wooden leg is not quite long enough (hence the 7/8 meter), and he stinks of grog.
II. Adrift Becalmed.... captured, quietly rather than violently, by the forces of nature. Though an eerie, windless silence generally prevails, from time to time the sea offers subtle hints that the sailors are not alone.
III. Great White Seas are rough and it would not be a good time to fall overboard. The dorsal fins circling the ship make it clear that even if the crew survives, it will not be because the sea has any respect for their efforts or their captain's swagger.
Quartet #3, The "Automotive" (1997-98)
This quartet is a mostly humorous--but not altogether fond--look at the modern horseless carriage. Each movement takes as its inspiration a vehicle that borrows its name from an animal.
I. Impala My target here, named for a swift and graceful antelope of central Africa, is the heavy, long, big horsepower, wide-wheelbase American family sedan, essentially interchangeable with any similar model by other manufacturers, including most station wagons. This movement includes some of the most explicitly rendered programmatic content of this collection.
II. Caterpillar This is actually a trademark for continuous metal tracks powered by toothed wheels, used for moving over rough or muddy ground, as in a bulldozer. When I was growing up I never tired of seeing the big earth movers, graders, and power shovels that performed this incredible act of landscaping.
III. Beetle This stilted waltz is my homage to the original Volkswagen, the car so homely it was cute, the car regarded so fondly by its legions of owners, proud of their thrift and eschewal of comfort, that they gave it a name: the Bug, or Beetle.
IV. Jaguar This movement is a lament, concerned more with the living jaguar of the western tropics (Panthera onca) than the handmade British personal luxury car. The extended solos and duets and generally somber tone of this music reflect my concern that the future seems much less hopeful for the feline jaguar than the mechanical one.
V. Mustang Within 5 years of its introduction, the Mustang had been corrupted into a gas-guzzling muscle car. It is this Mustang that provides the imagery of this movement: speed, tension, rock music blaring from open windows; the driver, perhaps doing some guzzling of his own, guns the engine to impress his terrified date, and, inevitably, fails at the end to hold a tight curve, landing the car upside down.