- (Chiara String Quartet)
- Format: CD
Triptych is a powerful new classical composition that memorializes the victims of September 11, 2001. Robert Sirota's breathtaking music is paired with Deborah Patterson's stunning paintings (included in the fold-out CD case). The performance, by the Chiara String Quartet, is a world premiere, and hauntingly emotional. The Chiara String Quartet is Rebecca Fischer, violin Julie Yoon, violin Jonah Sirota, viola Greg Beaver, cello From the CD liner notes: Triptych was written to commemorate the victims of September 11, 2001. It had an emotional first performance by the Chiara String Quartet on September 26, 2002, at Trinity Church on Wall Street, one of the churches on the periphery of Ground Zero. The musical composition was created in tandem with a painting of the same name by Deborah Patterson; the three names of the panels bear the same subtitles as the movements of the piece: Desecration, Lamentation, and Prayer. While there was no overt attempt between Deborah and myself to carefully align the music and the painting, they are intended to have a reinforcing effect on each other. The first movement is an explicit evocation of an horrific event. I imagine that when the towers came down, every car alarm in lower Manhattan went off simultaneously, so I have incorporated those sounds into the end of the movement. The second and third movements are a kind of meditation on the tragedy, first a grieving and then a consolation. In the painting, the center panel shows the body of Father Mychal Judge, a chaplain for the FDNY, and one of the first victims of the disaster, being carried by a group of firefighters. This realistic depiction of an actual event is flanked by two more abstract panels. The panel on the left shows the smoke and dust of the towers collapsing; the panel on the right is a kind of reverse image as light ascends to heaven. Just as Deborah layers paints and colors, I try to layer sound in techniques similar to the painter's use of sfumato and chiaroscuro. New Voice singles Triptych received rave reviews from Fanfare and American Record Guide. Raymond Tuttle of Fanfare writes in the November/December 2005 issue of Fanfare: 'Creative artists of every type couldn't help being affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Bad news doesn't always make good music, however. Several works of classical music indirectly or directly related to that day's tragedies come to mind: frankly, some smell a little of opportunism. To me, the most moving post-9/11 music, regardless of genre, was made a little more than a week later, when the unclassifiable but always perceptive Laurie Anderson performed at Town Hall in New York City (Nonesuch 79681-2). Robert Sirota's Triptych, unlike the music that Anderson performed at that venue, is explicitly related to 9/11. Sirota has avoided gimmickry and sensationalism, however, and there's a sincerity to this string quartet that will give it more staying power, I predict, than works such as John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls. 'As Sirota was writing his quartet in 2001-2002, artist Deborah Patterson was working on a three-paneled painting by the same name. In Sirota's own words, 'While there was no overt attempt between Deborah and myself to carefully align the music and the painting, they are intended to have a reinforcing effect on each other.' The painting is reproduced on the inside of the CD's packaging. The titles of the painting's three panels, 'Desecration,' 'Lamentation,' and 'Prayer' are the same as those of the quartet's three movements. ''Desecration' depicts the fall of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. When I read that, at the end of the movement, Sirota incorporated the sounds (imitated by the musicians, not actual) or car alarms going off all over lower Manhattan, I feared the worst. Fortunately, the composer has handled this tastefully. In fact, I was reminded of Shostakovitch's imitation of air raid sirens in his String Quartet No. 8. The grim and mournful tone of 'Lamentation' is followed by the more consolatory 'Prayer.' Sirota's language, while modern, is not difficult. Listeners who appreciate the string quartets of Shostakovitch and Bartok should not be fazed by Sirota. The music is heartfelt and honest, without becoming hysterical, morbid, or pretentious. (For the record, the composer was born in 1949. He studied at Juilliard, Oberlin, and Harvard - and with Nadia Boulanger.) 'The Chiara String Quartet (Rebecca Fischer and Julie Yoon, violins; Jonah Sirota, viola; Greg Beaver, cello) has been around for about a decade. The New Voice Singles series is their own attractive way of bringing new works to the attention of the CD-buying public. (I assume that the asking price for a single-length CD is considerably reduced.) I hear nothing to suggest that this performance is anything less than definitive.' Robert Sirota Born in 1949 in New York City, Robert Sirota pursued early training in composition at Juilliard, and received a Bachelor of Music degree in piano and composition from Oberlin Conservatory. After a year of study in Europe with Nadia Boulanger, he earned a PhD in composition at Harvard. His catalogue includes solo and chamber works, four stage works, choral works, and concertos for viola, cello, organ, and saxophone. Commissions include the Seattle Symphony, the American Guild of Organists, the Fischer Duo and the Peabody Trio, and he has received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Watson Foundation, the NEA, ASCAP, Meet the Composer, and many others. His works are published by Theodore Presser, Boelke-Bomart, Music Associates of NY, and MorningStar, and are recorded on the Capstone, Gasparo, and Lumos labels. He has taught composition at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University since 1995, when he also accepted the appointment as Director. The Chiara String Quartet is at the forefront of a new generation of exceptional American string quartets. Dedicated to presenting groundbreaking performances of masterworks old and new, the group has performed all around the US and Europe, has won first prizes in the Fischoff Competition and the Astral Artistic Services Audition and is currently the Lisa Arnhold String Quartet in Residence at the Juilliard School. Artist Deborah Patterson has been creating original, provocative work for nearly 20 years. She trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Fleisher Art Memorial, the Aegean Center for the Arts (Greece), and Studio Giambio in Florence, Italy. She received a Master of Arts degree in Religion and the Arts from Yale University's groundbreaking program in sacred music and art. She currently divides her time between Baltimore, where she is very involved in art outreach for inner-city youth, and where she holds a working studio, and Italy, where she guides tours of art history and has had numerous showings of her work, most notably in Florence, Carrara, and Pistoia. She has collaborated once before with composer Robert Sirota, in The Passion of Jesus Christ: A Visual Oratorio (1997).