The Berkshire Eagle (7/4/06)

Excerpted from: Juilliard serves a musical stew

By Andrew L. Pincus

(...) “To the list of compositions that tell a love story in instrumental terms, add Ezequiel Viñao's String Quartet II, which carries a subtitle from J.R.R. Tolkien, The Loss and the Silence. A tale by the English fabulist is one of the ingredients in the Argentine composer's musical stew, which the Juilliard String Quartet brought to Tanglewood over the weekend. The loss-and-silence story, in which an immortal falls in love with a mortal man only to see him die (see Dvorak’s Russalka for an operatic take on the same myth), is a subtext. More prominent in the telling are what Viñao describes as ‘rhythmic cycles.’ These are displaced rhythmic patterns, somewhat as in minimalism but more elaborated.(...) The five movement work was a centennial commission by the Juilliard School for its resident quartet, which premiered it last October. In the estimable ensemble’s annual Tanglewood visit, it bracketed the new piece between two old standbys (...) Along with certain composition procedures, Viñao confesses an interest in medieval thought and traditions. In the story of love and loss, he finds symbols of early Christian ‘mortality’ and ‘fall.’ (...) The ideas are provocative, and they carry over from movement to movement, providing continuity. The brief epilogue, recalling the lovers’ sights, carries an immediate impact (...) Viñao titles the movement Cold and Grey. And so, with its icy harmonies, it is. (...) A listener has to assume that the Juilliard, having chosen Viñao as a composer and lived with his piece, gave a considered performance. Certainly, it sounded authentic.” (...)