Without the enterprise of the eminent oboist Peggy Pearson, the Quartet for Oboe and String Trio might not have come into being. She made it plain that she wanted a piece from me, proposed the instrumental makeup of the ensemble and proceeded to put together a consortium of players and organizations to commission the work. The Quartet was begun during the summer of 1999 and completed in December. Premières by consortium members began in February 2000 and performances are continuing throughout the year. The Boston première took place on April 1st, 2000 with Pearson, violinist Bayta Keyes, violist Mary Ruth Ray and ‘cellist Rhonda Rider.
The Quartet is in one single movement lasting about 25 minutes. As the music unfolds we find ourselves in zones of clearly defined character: lyric, passionate, passive, frenetic, antic, melancholic or meditative. Unexpected disjunctions and transformations are the rule.
Much of the structure of the Quartet is governed by variation technique. A ground-bass introduces by the ‘cello fairly early on anchors the framework for a succession of episodes of unequal length and changing character. Later on, a loosely assembled succession of variations organizes much of the second half of the composition. Such observations about the private technical methods of the composer do not begin to touch on the essential matter of the Quartet- which is to create a coherent succession of the dramatic and expressive events whose purpose it is to embrace a large world of experience and to find ways to illuminate and to share that world.
— Yehudi Wyner