String Quartet No. 3: Air (2005)

String Quartet No. 3: Air is a single-movement, ten-minute work in five sections: Aura-Aria-Air-Aria-Aura.

The third in a cycle of six quartets focusing on Classical forms, String Quartet No. 3: Air is an homage to the da capo aria, adhering to the outline, substance and spirit of operatic song.  An ethereal introduction — Aura — is followed by an lyrical Aria, sung by the violins and viola.  The melody is ornamented not only in pitch and rhythm, but in timbre and tempo.  The contrasting section, Air, ranges from delicacy to tempestuousness.  When the Aria returns, it is sung by the cello, with an accompaniment that mimics the shape of the human breath.

A brief coda transforms the elusive textures of the opening Aura, finally dissipating into thin air.

String Quartet No. 3: Air was premiered January 13 and 15, 2006 by the Four Seasons Chamber Festival: Ara Gregorian, Ivan Chan, violins; Ulrich Eichenauer, viola; Michael Kannen, cello.