String Quartet No. 3, “Psalms of Sorrow” (1994)
My third String Quartet ("Psalms of Sorrow") was composed between the 24th of October and the 30th of December 1994. The work was composed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. It was written as a memorial and tribute not only to those who suffered and died during this horrible reign of terror, but also for those who survived. The quartet exists in three movements; The first movement, a ricercare, is in fact an elegy for the survivors of the ordeal. This contrapuntal lament is interrupted two thirds of the way through by a march, a memory of the dark and ultimately overwhelming presence of the Third Reich.
The second movement, entitled Remembrance, is a recollection in musical terms of "Krystillnacht" - the evening in Nuremberg when in the middle of the night, the Nazis invaded the homes and businesses of countless Jews and eventually executed them.
A musical scena, the third movement employs a baritone solo and is essentially a depiction of a man who is saying what will be his final prayers, before going to meet his maker. The text is from Stephen Mitchell's "A Book of Psalms," an adaptation of several psalm texts. In this case, I used portions of his adaptations of Psalms 39 and 17.
The work received its World Premiere in Salt Lake City on October 13, 1995 at the Cathedral of the Madeline, with the Muir Quartet and baritone William Sharp. "Psalms of Sorrow" was commissioned by the Snowbird Institute with generous support from the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation Inc., and from Stephen Mitchell.
-- Richard Danielpour