Richard Danielpour’s 4th Quartet (Apparitions) was composed in a 20-day period in December 2000. The majority of writing was done in Palm Beach, Florida, not far from where the composer grew up, and where some of his "Apparitions" stories are located. The Quartet, which is comprised of five movements and is approximately 28 minutes long, was completed on December 31 in New York City.
"These apparitions," explained Danielpour, "are a collection of pieces inspired by fantasies, dreams and stories of the supernatural; often involving the relationships between people."
I. Rudolfo’s Dream is the composer’s continuation of Puccini’s La Boheme. In the opening movement, the yearning Rudolpho dreams of his beloved Mimi returning to him from beyond the grave and beckoning him to join her.
II. In Katrina and the Children, the wife of railroad tycoon, Spencer Trask hosts a lavish party in their mansion, Yaddo, located in Saratoga Springs, New York. Katrina Trask lost each of her children, one by one in the great Diphtheria Epidemic around the turn of the 20th century. In this movement, the entire family is reunited beyond the ravages of time in the old mansion. The evening turns into a ghostly ball, as guests from over 100 years ago appear to share the reunion. (Yaddo was converted into an artists’ retreat by Trask’s family and still operates as such today.)
III. Swan Song revolves around a personal incident in the composer’s life. Danielpour’s grandmother died in July 2000 at the age of 88. Her husband had passed on three years before her. In the last year of her life, she was stricken with Parkinson’s Disease as well as a form of acute arthritis and had become largely silent. Several days before her death, Danielpour’s grandmother suddenly began to speak again – saying that her husband was standing in the room and waiting for her. The evening of her death, she sang Persian songs to her dearly departed. Her loved ones felt that they could hear but one side of an enduring love duet…
IV. In Last Tango at Teatro Colon, the composer evokes the famous theater in Buenos Aires, considered by many to be one of the finest opera houses in the western hemisphere. After World War II and into the 1950’s, many refugees arrived from Europe, including Jewish holocaust survivors and Nazis fleeing the collapse of the Third Reich. It made for an extremely tense audience at lavish performances – Jews on the left and Nazis on the right – all gathered for a common love of the music, and all compelled to behave politely – in public, at least. The Teatro Colon was also famous for trysts. There was a row of private boxes place at ground level, where one could see out, but no one could see in to observe the forbidden passions. And so the two groups gathered – one united by passion and the other clothed in animosity, yet united by the love of the Opera. A common saying of the denizens of Buenos Aires for many years has been, "When the Teatro is dark and closed, then seething passions of these long-ago audiences continue their own sort of dance – endlessly."
V. In the composer’s own words, "This is the strangest tale of all." Johnnie Brown was the pet monkey of famous Florida architect, Mizner. In the years following World War I, much of Palm Beach was designed by the architect. Although popular and much in demand, Mizner’s favorite companion was his monkey. When Johnnie Brown died, Mizner had him laid to rest in state on the prominent Worth Avenue with a gravestone that read "Johnnie Brown – The Human Monkey." Although the architect lived for many years, he was reportedly never the same after his beloved companion died. This movement explores the abstract relationship between man and beast; and asks the age-old question "Who is really the master? The man or the monkey?
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