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Project 440

David Leisner

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Vision of Orpheus

Performed by the iO String Quartet; David Leisner, guitar

Vision of Orpheus, a painting by Santa Fe artist Mark Spencer, provided the initial inspiration for my quintet of the same name for guitar and string quartet.  It is a representation of what Orpheus might have seen on the verge of leaving the Underworld: a glimpse of the blue sky above, with all the simple happiness that it promised, from the dark, complex, eerie, messy world below. Throughout the five-movement work, the guitar evokes the character of Orpheus, the great lyre player of the myth, while the string quartet conjures the gods of the Underworld. In the final movement, the theme that in varying octaves has been a constant presence throughout now transforms into a simple folk tune in the distant blue, a promise of happiness and contentment, played by the guitar in the optimistic key of E major, while the muted strings continue their underworld themes in the distant key of the opening movement. The folk tune becomes more and more distant and eventually evaporates as Orpheus turns, at the last moment, to look back at Eurydice, which he was instructed not to do, and he loses her.  


Performed by Eugenia Moliner, flute; Katja Kleijn, cello; Denis Azbagic, guitar.

The first movement of Trittico for flute, cello and guitar is an abstract piece.  Light and straightforward, it needs no special words of introduction.