Canon Fodder: Dig Absolutely

[dropcap_1]W[/dropcap_1]elcome to the first of my Canon Fodder, a series dedicated to presenting string quartets that deserve to be heard.  I thought I'd start with a personal and Spektral favorite, accompanied by a brand spankin' new video by us.  I will be featuring a new quartet each week, and I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.   -Austin

Christopher Fisher-Lochhead: Dig Absolutely (2010)  -

Chris was born in Lewiston, ME in 1984 and currently lives in Chicago, IL where he is pursuing a Doctoral degree in Composition at Northwestern University.

"Dig Absolutely" is dedicated to Laurel Borden and was premiered at the Manhattan School of Music on Feb. 6, 2011.

My other favorite pieces by Chris were written for me, of course! I love his string writing and think his solo violin pieces "water(l)ily" and the piece I'm premiering next month, "Belles Letteres" are fantastic.  Also, "Gouache: 'Runcible Spoon" is almost as fun to play as "Dig".

The opening of "Dig" spins out a twisting line of music that weaves between the upper three voices of the quartet.  The patience of this piece as it waits to burst the initial bubble of energy is quite remarkable.  When Russ enters just after the 2:00 mark all the energy flies into the air, fragmented but not fully released.

In this heightened realm of expression where we land - floating above the earthy, gritty gestures of the opening - there is a sense wonder at the sounds a string quartet can make.  Harmonics build upon each other and swish by like insects.

By 3:20 all the angst of the opening has been filtered out by the air of this fragile nocturnal region.  The journey from the dense forest of rhythmic counterpoint and metric instability at the beginning to this place of rest is one worth taking more than once.

From this point, the unification of this newfound metric stability with the sighing and expressive gestures of the opening builds up to the climactic moment the opening's energy was begging for.  But, afterward…why is Doyle left alone, journeying through the terrain of fragile harmonics by himself?  A fascinating short story.