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Arbor Vitæ (2 × CD) Track listing detail

Arbor Vitæ

James Tenney

  • Year of composition: 2006
  • Duration: 13:10
  • Instrumentation: string quartet
  • Commission: Quatuor Bozzini, with support from the CCA

Premiere

  • December 10, 2006, Concert, CalArts, Valencia (California, USA)

Saxony

James Tenney

  • Year of composition: 1978-84
  • Duration: 23:54
  • Instrumentation: string quartet and delay

Stochastic String Quartet

James Tenney

  • Year of composition: 1963
  • Duration: 2:48
  • Instrumentation: string quartet

This was my first effort to use the computer in the process of composition (as distinct from sound-generation) for a piece of instrumental music, using conventional notation. It is fairly short, having originally been intended as a kind of demonstration of possible musical uses of the computer, but its harmonic and rhythmic complexities are such that it had received only one public performance before the Quatuor Bozzini made it a part of their regular repertoire. How times do change!

James Tenney

String Quartet in One Movement

James Tenney

  • Year of composition: 1955
  • Duration: 3:30
  • Instrumentation: string quartet

The String Quartet in One Movement is very much a work from Tenney’s youth: he was 21 when he wrote it. Tenney rediscovered it recently in a pile of scores and the work received its premiere in november 2004 by the Quatuor Bozzini — after almost 50 years! It is certainly a very accomplished student work. Tenney was clearly under the influence of Bartók — as the motives, harmony and especially the rhythmic energy demonstrate. And the string writing is beautiful, which is a harbinger of things to come.

Michael Pisaro


Premiere

  • November 11, 2004, James Tenney — 70 ans, REDCAT, Los Angeles (California, USA)

Koan for String Quartet

James Tenney

  • Year of composition: 1984
  • Duration: 18:38
  • Instrumentation: string quartet

In 1971 I wrote a piece called Koan for solo violin which was concerned with the perceptual effects of an absolutely linear and predictable formal process — involving a bowed tremolo progressing through a series of microtonal intervals on progressively higher pairs of strings. The first violin part in this Koan for string quartet is essentially the same as that earlier piece, but here the other instruments of the quartet are used to provide a harmonic context — and thus a harmonic “Meaning” — for each of those microtonal intervals, within a fairly complex, just tuning system. The resultant sonorities might be conceived as a complex “chord progression” on various different roots or fundamentals. Some of these sonorities will be quite familiar to the Western ear; others are rather more “exotic”. But they are all derived by a simple extrapolation from traditional harmonic relationships

Cognate Canons

James Tenney

  • Year of composition: 1993
  • Duration: 24:58
  • Instrumentation: string quartet and percussion

Diaphonic Study

James Tenney

  • Year of composition: 1997
  • Duration: 18:25
  • Instrumentation: string quartet and piano

Quintext I-V: Five Textures

James Tenney

  • Year of composition: 1972
  • Duration: 30:33
  • Instrumentation: string quartet and double bass

Quintext I-V: Five Textures, 1: Some Recent Thoughts for Morton Feldman

James Tenney

  • Duration: 9:47

Quintext I-V: Five Textures, 3: A Choir of Angels for Carl Ruggles

James Tenney

  • Duration: 3:57

Quintext I-V: Five Textures, 4: Parabolas and Hyperbolas for Edgard Varèse

James Tenney

  • Duration: 4:59

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