String Quartet No. 2: "Psalterion"(2007)
|Commission||Commissioned by Museum of Biblical Art NYC|
|Premiere||January 27, 2007; Museum of Biblical Art NYC; Allsar Quartet • Amie Weiss, Erik Carlson, Miranda Sielaff, and Chris Gross|
|Technical requirements||For print purchases, please contact the publisher to obtain audio files: email@example.com|
Digital purchases include audio files with performance materials.
The title Psalterion is a Greek word for string instrument or harp, from which the word psalm is derived. It originally referred to “a song sung to a harp”, from psallein “to pluck”. Inspired by the sustained electronic harmonies of Maryanne Amacher’s 'VM3 From The Levi-Montaclini Variations’, I used an autoharp to design the tuning of the quartet’s sixteen open strings, a chord rooted on the cello’s low B-flat. The sonority features a slight detuning of the second violin and viola on the order of cents. When played in combination with corresponding strings of the same pitch, these fine differences produce a variety of “singing” or beating effects.
In response to this commission by the Museum of Biblical Art for their “Hearing the Sacred” series, I drew inspiration from the opening of the Book of Ezekiel, which vividly describes the prophet’s vision of four anthropomorphic angelic creatures, who, in consort with a mechanical wheel structure, are capable of unique forms of levitated motion. As such, the piece narrates a mystical experience, perceptually revealed through the resonance of open strings and their natural harmonics.
– Mario Diaz de Leon
June 2022, New York City