String Quartets - David Stoll (RVRCD54)

THESE QUARTETS ARE REFLECTIONS ON PHILOSOPHICAL OR SPIRITUAL SUBJECTS. QUARTET NO. 1 IS A MEDITATION ON THE MANDUKYA UPANISHAD, A PRIMARY TEXT OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF NON-DUALITY. QUARTET NO. 2 DESCRIBES THE MOVE FROM ACTIVE WORLDLY CONSIDERATIONS TO THE STILLNESS OF A DISCIPLINED MIND.

STRING QUARTET no.2

This QUARTET was commissioned privately in Canada, following the concert premiere in Toronto of STRING QUARTET no.1. It was written in 1999.

The music describes the "journey" from the material world to an appreciation of the reality which lies behind it. Because we are caught up in everyday concerns (1), it is necessary to open the mind to new ways of understanding. To this end, such exercises as meditation are helpful (2). With growing understanding, activity begins to be appreciated as merely a surface phenomenon (3). Grateful for such insight (4), the aspiring philosopher begins to live life in a detached way, treating the world as a drama or dance (5). When the mind is capable of remaining still during all the pushes and pulls of daily life, the philosopher is ready for enlightenment (6).

STRING QUARTET no.1

Commissioned privately in London, this QUARTET was written in 1994 and premiered by the Accordes Quartet in June, 1998. The music takes the form of a reflection on the Mandukya Upanishad, an extremely condensed scripture from the Vedic tradition. In twelve precise sentences, the entirety of what is within creation, and also what is beyond it, is laid out. Though beyond the capacity of mind to grasp, the text delivers to the listener an extraordinary message of unity: that the limitless is one with the world of manifestation.

In the text, a description is given of the four "states" of consciousness: awake, in dream, in undifferentiated deep sleep and transcendent. This last is reality, which cannot be described and, in a way, includes the others within itself as modifications.

The music of this piece is in one continuous movement. The three familiar states are heard in sequence, each of them appearing from and dissolving into the fourth, the transcendent. The QUARTET is intended as a meditation, that the listener may let go of any expectations and rest in each present moment of sound.

Music and the Word - David Stoll

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