Two connected movements — a prelude with Gershwinesque tartness and a driving fast-movement in sonata-form with a couple of juxtapositions from the prelude.
The five-movement arch-form of this very early work (1966) is obviously inspired by Bartok, but the unabashed tunefulness and folksong/rock’n’roll impetus give it a directness the composer still cherishes.
Papillons (1976) is, on one level a piece-within-a-piece about a string quartet playing a paraphrase of Robert Schumann’s “Papillons” (Butterflies). Schumann’s fascinating piano work is in the form of untitled character pieces which are so evanescent individually that the listener links them together into a unique kind of formal perception. The quartet is in the form of a Prologue and Paraphrase. In the Prologue, the players present some of Schumann’s melodic and rhythmic ideas in a number of late 20th century stylistic disguises, separated by a recurring fastand light butterfly texture. It is the cellist who determines to bring this venture to a halt, quoting the recitative from Beethoven’s 9th — “O friends, not these sounds” —suggesting that these 20th century (now 21st ) musicians might feel more at home with the musical gestures of the 19th century. The Paraphrase then begins, alternating Schumann’s 12 pieces with newly composed pieces which emulate or reflect upon the vitality and infectious appeal of Schumann’s music. The solo first violin is permitted the final comment as Schumann’s music dissipates, quoting the motto line from Freund’s setting of Carl Sandburg’s “Playthings of the Wind”: “The past is a bucket of ashes.” Papillons was the winner of the 1979 Washington International String Quartet Composition Competition, and was premiered at the Corcoran Gallery by the National Symphony String Quartet.
Summersongs (String Quartet #4) could be described as three tunes in search of a string quartet. The tunes present contrasting characters. The first one, which dominates the opening of the piece after emerging from a torrential tangle of energetic scale patterns, is strong and broad, a bold rising-fourth beginning (think “All the Things You Are”) followed by driving syncopated phrases and shifting harmonies. The second tune, which defines the middle of the piece, has a distinct Latin flavor. Easy-going at first, its syncopations become more insistent, igniting a firestorm of activity. The final tune is as slight and refreshing as a summer breeze. Heard over a gentle drone, its only development is by reduction, inviting the listener to fill in the missing notes.