Cuarteto Claroscuro

Update item information
Publication Type Art Original
School or College College of Fine Arts
Department Music, School of
Creator Chuaqui, Miguel Basim
Title Cuarteto Claroscuro
Date 1997
Description I grew up in Chile during the 70's, and early 80's, a time of political upheaval and economic distress in Chile, and this has probably exerted as strong an influence on my musical outlook as any other aspect of Chilean culture. While I distrust "political art" I do have an abiding desire for my music to somehow directly address the needs of the community, as presumptuous as this may seem. The tension between my populist point of view and my personal need to create music that is clever and original, shapes my musical language. In the last movement of Cuarteto Claroscuro, for example, intricate contrapuntal, chromatic, pitch-class, and proportion games are used to create a tuneful, rhythmic, quasi-diatonic, and formally straightforward surface. The title of the string quartet reflects the generally dark harmonic coloring of the music, which throws into relief passages of brighter harmonic quality. The quartet begins in half-light (Penumbra) with the cello presenting a dark, brooding question while the other strings sustain a soft chord in a high register. The energetic music that follows is an intense, polyphonic, rhythmic babble in which the instruments play similar material, but always in a staggered way, as if they were each impatiently trying to provide an answer to the cello's opening question. Exhaustion ensues, and, after a couple of long silences, more lyrical music follows, initiated, again, by the cello in its low register and followed by a little languid duet in the violins. Eventually, the intensity of the beginning resumes and accumulates tension, which finally focuses on an ascending cello line that is picked up by each instrument in turn, ascending to the highest register, and culminating in a series of ritualistic accented dissonant chords. The instruments finally play together, but there still is no resolution, and the movement ends in conflict, with a reference to the opening question again presented in the cello. The slow second movement, Meditación, is more introspective. The viola plays a passionate solo, and the ritualistic chords from the first movement return, but are slower and more sustained. These chords, and the enigmatic silences and playful episodes in the movement give it a fantastic quality, which culminates at the end with the cello playing high harmonics over a bed of tremolo chords in the other instruments. The third movement, Casi Cueca, literally, "Almost a Cueca" takes its name from the Cueca, a traditional fast Chilean dance in six-eight time, with sporadic measures of three-four time, in which phrases often begin with a quick upbeat gesture. These elements can be clearly heard in the opening refrain of the piece. The verse/chorus form of the Cueca becomes, in the first half of the movement, an irregular succession of alternating episodes, including loud hocket double-stop interruptions, which are intended to evoke wild guitar strumming (yet another transformation of the ritualistic chords of the first movement). The second half of this movement consists of a slow, lyrical section that gradually becomes more active and leads to a return of the opening refrain, but with interruptions from the music that led to the return. The end of the movement is a transformation of the polyphonic babble from the first movement, now presented with descending, rather than ascending, lines and with a regular sixteenth note rhythm, rather than the irregular rhythms of the first movement. The nervous anxiety of the first movement becomes confident energy at the end of the work.
Type Text
Publisher Self-published
Subject LCSH String quartet; Instrumental music
Language eng
Bibliographic Citation Chuaqui, M. B. (1997). Cuarteto Claroscuro.
Rights Management (c)Miguel Chuaqui
Format Medium application/pdf
Identifier ir-main,10963
ARK ark:/87278/s6p5666w
Setname ir_uspace
Date Created 2012-06-13
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 707535
Reference URL