TARAB (2003) Op. 66 

Opus number: 66

Title: Tarab; a concertino for double cello quartet

Commissioned: Florent Renard-Payen for the Tarab Cello Ensemble

Dedication: Tarab Cello Ensemble

Instrumentation: Eight cellos

Date written: June 2003

Length: ca. 15 minutes

Premiere performance: October17, 2003 Seully Hall, The Boston Conservatory, Boston, MA

Important subsequent performances: February 8, 2004 Taplin Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, April 18, 2004, Wellin Hall Hamilton College, Clinton, NY

Program notes: Tarab was commissioned for the Tarab Cello Ensemble by its founder, Florent Renard-Payen. In three large sections, the work was conceived as a concertino for two cello quartets. Tarab is one of my most experimental pieces of recent years. Here I combine my interest in using high-ratio polyrhythms to articulate the background phrase structure with a new emphasis on working with a large harmonic vocabulary. The two quartets begin by sharing similar characteristics. By the second section the quartets operate entirely in opposition; while one quartet plays slowly and expressively, the other plays resolute and dance-like music. The antiphonal call-and-response between the two quartets reaches its climax at the end of the second section, where all eight cellos play one phrase in unison. In the third section each cello plays a short cadenza. Little by little these solos form duets, then trios, and, finally, the initial quartet juxtaposition is reestablished. The overall shape of the work is one of growing tension, catharsis, and resolution leading the listener-it is hoped-to a state of ecstasy, or ‘tarab’.

—Larry Thomas Bell

Reviews: (performances) ìWhat stood out were the lush harmonies and the fanfare-like motives in the first section of the piece and the two quartets in opposition in the second half, in particular the pizzicato versus chords. I was also impressed with the striking lyrical lines towards the end of the piece. The overall feel struck me as Romantic in its harmonic language and its emotional quality as well. I did get a sense of catharsis that the composer attempts to portray and a final feeling of ëtarabí which translates as ëecstasy.í

—Koren Cowgill, Classical New Jersey Society Journal (March 18, 2004)