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Name of Work

Bates, Mason (1977-)
String Band for cello, violin, piano

String Band


May 06, 2007

Joseph Genualdi, Viola
Sophie Shao, Cello
James Giles, Piano

BATES-String Band

Composed in 2002

Mason Bates comments on his String Band:

Sandwiched between my burgeoning shelf of electronica vinyl and an admittedly more modest stack of bargain-bin classical LPs, I have in my record collection a few dozen albums of old-time string-band music. The covers show ecstatically happy groups of country musicians crowded together and clutching the tools of their trade: fiddles, guitars, mandolins, banjos, a string bass. The breakneck, instrumental picking on the records is even more lively than the looks on their faces, and somewhere in that soulful, earthy music I found a space to begin String Band.

Those who are aware of old-time string-band music might hear a twangy resemblance to the work's opening material. A unison that slowly bleeds lower, made more effective by the use of pencil erasers and small screws inserted in the piano, grows into bluesy, sliding half-steps. This ultimately flowers, in the middle of the work, into a long melody framed by bent notes - but at that moment the piece begins to disintegrate. With the pitch world fractured and the grooves of the beginning now fading into the chemical sunset, the last half of the piece shows the ensemble as a very different kind of string band. It is a unified band of resonating strings, with the melody regressing back to its original space of a bleeding unison.

Program Notes by Mason Bates

Performance date: May 6, 2007

Performance Audio