What do insects and paper airplanes have to do with chamber music?  Probably a lot more than I realize, since it seems like music has something to do with just about everything.  But as of this week, they are more intimately connected than ever before.

Bridge Records has just released Insects and Paper Airplanes, an album comprised of three of my string quartets and a piano quartet.  The performers are the incomparable Daedalus String Quartet and pianist Benjamin Hochman.

How new is it?  So new, I haven’t even received my copy yet.  But you can get yours just about anywhere your fingers can tap into a web connection.

The title Insects and Paper Airplanes comes from the second movement of String Quartet No. 2: Flight. Like the other five movements in my second quartet, it’s a fugue.  Like the other five movements in my second quartet, it’s about flight.  Like the fourth movement in my second quartet, it’s a scherzo, and that’s where the title comes in.  Insects is a scherzo and Paper Airplanes is a contrasting trio section.  Insects features fast buzzing music and Paper Airplanes is all doomed, harebrained swoops.

So, a fugue-scherzo-flying thingy about bugs and toys.  That about sums up the second movement of my second quartet.

And it says a lot about the nature of the music contained on this disk.  Insects and paper airplanes belong together the way fugues and scherzos belong together, the way the past and the present belong together, the way vastly different cultures belong together – because, to quote the guy I’ve been hanging out with for a number of years, “there are no two points so distant from one another that they cannot be connected by a single straight line – or an infinite number of curves.”

The question is not whether they belong together – they are together whether they belong or not.   The real questions are: how can we help them thrive in one another’s presence? And how do we keep them from destroying one another?

These are questions worth devoting a lifetime to.

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