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 String Quartet No.2 (2016)

Atar Arad

String Quartet No. 2

As a whole, my Quartet No. 2 may echo memories from childhood and the music with which I grew up in Israel. To me it is a nostalgic voyage to a place and time existing vividly in my mind but not any more in reality.

The first movement, Another Place – Another Time, is a display of contrasting moods. It swiftly moves back and forth from deeply acute inner sadness, to drama and despair, and to innocent, gay, playful and almost childlike gestures.

The second movement, Ladino, belongs to my mother. Ladino is the Spanish Sephardic language spoken for centuries by the Jews who had been thrown out of Spain in 1492 and from then on kept moving until reaching places as far as Bulgaria and Turkey. My mother emigrated from Bulgaria to Israel with her parents at the age of three and for decades Ladino remained the language they used between them. To this day I remember, treasure - and at times even dare sing - Bulgarian and Ladino songs I learned from my mother, a non-stop, compulsive singer.

Ladino is framed by a row of twelve-tones. The same exact row appears in the third movement, Toccatina A La Turk, thus helping bind the two movements (which, in addition, are played continuously without a pause).

The Toccatina A La Turk, at first composed for two violins, belongs to Mimi - I wrote the original version for her and the wonderful Indiana University Violin Virtuosi (it was premiered by two very gifted sisters, Zoé and Ren Martin–Doike). Not without a smile, I tend to think of this movement as ”Dave meets Béla”; It’s subject is inspired by Brubeck’s Blue Rondo A La Turk while the constant juxtaposition of complicated and uneven Balkan rhythms is placing it not that far from Bartok’s Scherzo: Alla bulgarese from his Fifth Quartet.

I want to express my love and thanks to the members of the Verona Quartet – a very busy group these days - for taking the time to learn this not-so-easy-piece of mine, and to congratulate them for all their successes of late. And the same goes to the four Steans Music Institute Fellows who performed the piece so beautifully.

Atar Arad


String Quartet No. 2 is published by Hofmeister Musikverlag

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