Quilt Panels

Ronald Caltabiano

Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

An initial inspiration for "Quilt Panels" came in the early morning hours of a cool October day in 1987, at the first full showing of the AIDS Quilt in Washington, D.C. The enormous range of emotions I felt included shock, grief, joyful memories, anger, and an overwhelming sense of loss. The six ?panels? of this 16-minute sextet (played without break) are an attempt to make explicit these emotions, which words can only imply. Perhaps because of these personal associations, my usual compositional procedures were often put aside in favor of a more instinctive stream of musical consciousness.

The work proceeds as follows:
Panel One: After a brief introduction dominated by wide, angry, ascending intervals in the horn, this panel is led by a quiet, almost motionless cello solo, which builds in momentum and complexity to a fierce, concentrated cadenza.

Panel Two: The clarinet prevails in a sustained, rhythmless counterpoint of descending sighing gestures, with occasional interjections of the previous material. Final clarinet sighs accompany a brief violin cadenza introducing the next section.

Panel Three: Dance-like violin and piano interplay, increasingly interrupted by the previous clarinet material. Conflict rather than dialogue predominates. The violin material evolves into the frenetic activity of the next panel.

Panel Four: A jagged four-bar arpeggiated pattern is heard primarily in the piano while motives from previous sections are spun from slow legato cantus statements. A climax is torn off, leaving the viola playing at the top of its range while the rest of the ensemble hurls ferocious stabbing chords.

Panel Five: An extremely slow string chorale accompanies melodic fragments in the horn, clarinet, and piano. As the activity increases, we are taken back to the opening horn gestures, now as pat of the total ensemble.

Panel Six: Numbing chords and ferocious cello and piano gestures lead to a closing viola solo, which elicits memories from the rest of the work and ends with fragments of the opening cello solo.

Most aspects of "Quilt Panels" can be traced to the sequence of major, minor, and diminished thirds presented at the outset by the cello. These thirds generate harmonies that run the gamut of tonal qualities from fully tonal to modal and bi-modal to nearly atonal. They generate melodies, oriented around thirds and sixths, as well as quasi-tonal arpeggiated figures such as the driving rhythms of Panel Four. Further, the rhythms and harmonic sequences are produced by procedures using the same material. For example, the entire work can be heard as having a tonic E, with revolving dominants on C# and G, and with subdominant relationships on F and D. The relationship between the materials, implicit throughout, is finally made explicit in the closing viola solo.

The work is dedicated to all those fighting the war against AIDS.

Available on Rental

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Duration 00:17:00
Orchestration Cl. Hn. Pno. Vln. Vla. Vcl.
Premiere October, 1990. Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Dixon Hall, New Orleans, Louisiana.