Viola Quintet (Unquiet Parables) (2009) was commissioned by the Vienna Soloists and is dedicated to
Jack Melby and Jane Thompson.
The work is in three movements, each sharing the same basic musical material. The starting point
for the music is dissonant cadential figuration centered on Ab (taken from the voice leading of
American colonial-era music). Spinning out from this idea, the material extends to incorporate a
sonority formed from perfect 5ths one semitone apart. Irregular phrase lengths and cadences are
used as the basis of the work´s large-scale structures.
The first movement, Recitatives and Chorales, consists of free, recitative-like material for the
instruments in solo. These recitatives often erupt into fast spirals. This texture is interrupted
periodically by chorale-like ideas presented by the full quintet.
The second movement, Serenata, is a song-like with each instrument taking the melody in turn.
Some of the recitative-ideas of the first movement re-emerge, as well as a re-articulation of the
The third movement, Ductia, is energetic and driving. A ductia is a Medieval stamping dance
resembling the estampie. The driving (yet sometimes off-kilter) character of the dance is interrupted
by a recollection of the first movement´s material. The final resolution of the extended cadential
figurations occurs at the end, and the work ends exuberantly with a flourish in Ab major.