String Quartet No 1, ‘Montes’
i. City of Silence
ii. Gate of the Moon
iii. Music and Land
This work is a musical tribute to the Bolivian painter Fernando Montes, who died in January 2007 in London. The quartet is in three movements, each addressing one of Montes’s paintings. In some cases the connection is structural, extracting ideas for the organisation of musical material from the layout of the images. In all three cases, the music is an exploration of expressive resonances perceived from the paintings, as well as a reflection on the shared aspects in the painter’s and the composer’s backgrounds.
Thus, ‘City of Silence’ evokes the hieratic starkness of the eponymous painting. ‘Gate of the Moon’ explores an idea suggested by the painting – where a silver light radiates from the centre outward – and builds on material from ‘mooncast’ from my Mystical Dances. ‘Music and Land’ takes Montes’s idea of two drummers and a piper to generate music that has some of the character of Andean pipes’ playing with percussive accompaniment.
The piece was first performed by the Momenta Quartet on 28 November 2007 at Rock Hall Auditorium, Philadelphia.
© Agustín Fernández