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Boosey & Hawkes (Hendon Music)

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Ying Quartet
Composer's Notes

"...but not simpler..." for string quartet was commissioned by the Ying Quartet as part of their Life Music project, and was composed in the Summer of 2005. The enigmatic title comes from a famous statement of Albert Einstein's: "One should always make things as simple as possible, but not simpler." ("Man soll die Dinge so einfach wie moglich machen, aber nicht noch einfacher.") The piece dramatizes the search for calm and coherence in the midst of present-day complexity and diversity, and uses the togetherness or divergence of the four quartet players as a main source of tension and movement. The piece starts like a bat out of hell, and reaches only momentary oases which seem to quickly evaporate. "...but not simpler..." is about 15 minutes long, is in three movements performed without a break, and is a real tour de force for the players, who must navigate extremely rapid and difficult music while seeming unperturbed (which the Ying do supremely well). I think the quartet "sounds like modern life", with glimpses of equilibrium which feel straightforward and well-earned, but hopefully not simplistic. "...but not simpler..." is an homage to my mentor, Elliott Carter, a fact that emerged after I completed the piece last Fall, that in itself a testament to how Elliott's music, ideas, and convictions influence me deeply in ways that continue to surprise.

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