Sogni di Firenze (2018)

String Quartet

Program Note

Sogni di Firenze is a reflection on my time in Florence, Italy, in the summer of 2018. It is less of a narrative about my experiences there, and more about the actual dreams I had after returning home to the United States, dreams which vividly depicted scenes of Florence. Over the course of three months after returning home, my nightly dreams would transport me to the cobblestone streets lined with Renaissance artwork; to the unobstructed views of Brunelleschi’s Duomo; to the indelible presence of the Medici legacy; all of this untouched by time. But as time continued to pass, the dreams changed. Suddenly, familiar figures from my life in the States would appear in my dreams set in Florence, instead of featuring only the faces of those I met abroad. It was as if my subconscious was trying to retransition to life at home in the midst of culture shock. I could feel my experiences in Florence becoming more and more distant, and reflecting on them overwhelmed me with waves of nostalgia.

To structure this piece, I chose to build it in five movements. The first functions as an introduction with a breathless quality throughout. It presents all of the material from which the rest of the piece is composed. Movements two through five continue attacca. The first halves of the third and fifth movements are constructed similarly with disjunct rhythms and increasingly more dissonant harmonies. Each of these movements climaxes in opposite ways, the third building to a subito pianissimo, whereas the fifth explodes with fortissimo possibile. Nestled between these movements is a slow fugue, the subject of which is featured repeatedly throughout the piece as a recurring motif. The fugue functions as a meditation on the emotional density of the first three movements, particularly the unending energy of the second and third movements together. Coming out of the fugue begins the fifth movement, an aggregate of everything the listener has experienced in the piece. After its aforementioned climax, the fifth movement calms down with material quoted from the first movement, tying together the piece as a whole.

JWG II