My OCTET: DOUBLE QUARTET celebrates the relationship of the Guarneri and Johannes Quartets. (In four movements, it also is an homage in places to the celestial Mendelssohn Octet; no 16-year-old has a right to write so beautifully, and that piece still makes my hair stand on end when I hear it properly played.)
The first, Mystic Saraband, coalesces the two quartets into a body of eight voices little by little. The four violins start, interlaced with each other's group but each in counterpoint with their other quartet member. The merger is complete in the second movement, Mit Leidenschaft , whichexplores the other ensemble possibilities of eight players with drama and intensity. In Andantino lamentoso I continue what has turned out to be a string of grieving slow movements in my recent symphonic and chamber works (it seems to me to be the mood of our time); but this is followed by a Rondeau-Barcarolle which answers the grieving with a kind of joy, perhaps related to the darker Mendelssohn one finds if one looks under the surface.