For french horn and string quartet.
In the spring of 1998, I was approached by several of my colleagues of the Naples Philharmonic to compose a new piece for an upcoming recital. They were desiring a new piece for horn and string quartet, and the concert was to occur on April 1st.
I am always welcome to inspiration in any form, and in this case I found the date of the premiere (April Fool’s Day) to be an intriguing circumstance with which to work.
I first chose the month and day, 4 and 1 respectively, and decided to develop the opening movement playing with that harmonic progression. The IV-I cadence is a common one, used very often in American music, and will no doubt resonate its familiarity to the listener. Only in the end of the movement do I use that cadence truly, while only suggesting it through the repeated use of Perfect 4th intervals elsewhere.
The second movement is designed to play on the rhythmic psyche of the listener, starting with off-beats intentionally to “fool” the audience into thinking they are hearing downbeats. The movement progresses along in this fashion, including a 3/4 meter section rife with hemiolas (more rhythmic trickery) before returning to the opening material.
The last movement simply refers to the springtime essence of April, and presents an almost Schubertian lieder-type storm nearly throughout. It quietly fades into a gentle reprise of the piece’s opening material.
The piece was premiered on April 1st of 1998 by members of the Naples Philharmonic. Jim Stephenson