For the past several years I have had a growing interest in the musical miniature. This has come about largely from my own experience as a listener, specifically my great love for the works of Austrian composer Anton Webern (1883-1945) and Hungarian composer György Kurtág (b. 1926). Within the confines of the small form there is a certain rigor that is imposed by the need to be succinct in the expression of your musical ideas. You need to decide what you wish to get across and then do it quickly. The musical miniature is in many ways analogous to shorter poetic forms, especially those that are aphoristic in nature.
In these eleven short works for string quartet, I tried to create a series of little worlds, each with it’s own atmosphere and landscape, each with its own inner logic, its own melodic, rhythmic, harmonic and timbral language. Looking at the set as a whole, I have chosen to arrange the pieces in an order that I believe has a certain emotional and dramatic effect. These works were written in Winnipeg during October and November of 2000, and throughout the composition process, the knowledge that I was writing for an ensemble of the calibre of the Molinari Quartet was a continuous source of inspiration.
The world premier of Miniatures was given on January 15, 2001 at Eckhardt Gramatté Hall, Winnipeg, Manitoba. The performers were:
Olga Ranzenhofer, violin;
Johannes Jansonius, violin;
David Quinn, viola;
Julie Trudeau, cello.
Not a forced note from Molinaris
“. . . the rage of feeling was wide, as the players moved effortlessly from sinew to silk and met the composer’s technical demands with assurance. Concentrated music, it seems, need not sound forced.”
La Molinari et la sonorité
Matthews, M: Quartets 2+3; Miniatures
Michael Matthews: Quatours à cordes
String Quartets of Michael Matthews