Bagatelles for Strings (2021)

As featured in the semifinals of the 36th Annual Irving M. Klein International String Competition.

Instrumentation: unaccompanied violin, viola, cello, or double bass

Duration: Each piece lasts between 4-5 minutes. The entire suite runs 19 minutes.

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From the composer:

When I compose, I typically approach the writing process as an opportunity for exploration. Often, this can take the form of improvising around a certain technique or set of techniques with a common theme in order to generate ideas.

In each of the Bagatelles for Strings, I became curious about the many ways in which stringed instruments can resonate naturally and create a fuller sound. For example, all of the works feature or emulate drones at one point or another, allowing the instruments to accompany themselves and explore the harmonies that result from them. Additionally, the Bagatelles written for cello and bass feature scordatura, or non-standard tunings, which cause the instruments to develop a new tone color altogether and make unusual harmonies all the more intriguing.

Bagatelles for Strings is dedicated to the young musical artists of the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, present, past and future.

Watch each of the 2021 Klein Competition Finalists perform the works for violin, viola, and cello, below.

Bagatelles for Strings for solo violin, performed by Grace Huh:

Bagatelles for Strings for solo viola, performed by Yuchen Lu:

Bagatelles for Strings for solo cello, performed by William Tan:

Listen to Sakari Dixon Vanderveer and Mitchell Sardou Klein discuss the Bagatelles for Strings below.