“Wabi-sabi acknowledges that just as it is important to know when to make choices, it is also important to know when not to make choices: to let things be.” (Leonard Koren in “Wabi- Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers”.)
The aesthetic and metaphysical ideals that Japanese wabi-sabi encapsulates include simplicity, naturalness, and an acceptance of reality. This musical work seeks to illustrate the overall nature of wabi-sabi. At both the beginning of movement 1 and the ending of movement 3, notes are thought of as specks of Potentiality that are randomly evolving from or devolving to Nothingness. Movement 2, at the center point of this universal journey, expresses a concerted effort of diverse elements to create structure and meaning.
Ideally, every single performance (formal or informal) should be different from the last and contain various elements of surprise to even the performers. It is the composer’s hope that musicians will enjoy the challenge, the individual freedom, and unexpected moments ready to be discovered again and again in “Wabi-Sabi, for string quartet”.
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The title of the next piece, Wabi-Sabi, references a Japanese worldview that concentrates on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. This piece for strings is cast in three movements. “Emergence” (the art of knowing when, and just as importantly when not, to make choices), lyrical, ruminative, and frequently beautiful, is heard here in a hyper-expressive performance from the Juventas New Music Ensemble. The second movement, “Evolution,” suggest that the Universe is in constant motion towards and away from potential. There is a more relentless gait to this music, superbly conveyed here (perhaps particularly via first violin Ryan Shannon’s contribution). The final movement, “Entropy,” is an entreaty to put maximal attention on the present. The composer’s note implies there are elements of performer choice here, as each performance should be different, and each contain surprises (even to the performers themselves); one can perhaps hear elements of this in the pizzicato section of the finale. The account of Wabi-Sabi on this disc is stunning in its intensity. (Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine)
PDF download of sheet music