Offerto starts like a trembling hand writing an obituary in a dry sand. Saltandos, double-stops, and long phrases rather empty of emotional content, are notable features of this movement, which seeks consolation in the only 'fixed sounds', the rather hollow sonority of the open strings.
In the second movement, the painter is at work in the silent studio. There are double trills, sudden dramatic outbursts, fast runs, glissando passages, and delicate staccatos. All these musical gestures suggest an 'amplification' of the varied sounds the brushes make on the virgin canvas.
The third movement is fast and furious, and repeats and elaborates on fragments that are developed in an almost obsessive manner. This is Mimkhausen flying on a cannonball. The tension keeps rising and reaches the main climax in the extreme register of the violin, and after a short pause comes to a soft, abrupt end.
In the last movement, bell-like pizzicatos and gentle lyrical phrases lead gradually to a recitative-like passage, often in double-stops and octaves. A harsh pizzicato on the E string interrupts the flow of the music several times before it reaches the heights, only to fall back gently on to the lowest note on the violin, the open G string.
Karl Kvaran was one of the very few real abstract painters working in Iceland during the latter half of the 20th century. I visited him regularly at his tiny flat on the top of the old Post and Telecommunications building in the centre of Reykjavik. He was a highly cultured man, warm, brave and gentle, with a delicious sense of humour. Over the years we became good friends.
© Haflidi Hallgrímsson, October 2004