(For free-bass accordion and string quartet)
© 1999, Steve Mobia

In this programmatic piece, the accordion is the human protagonist while the strings represent natural forces, currents of change as well as etherial realms. The opening presents a "stagnation" progression. This represents an entropic stasis where little actual movement or direction happens. There is a knocking at the door here produced by tapping violins in a five beat succession brought back later. The number five often recurs to emphasize purpose and direction. Out of stagnation rises the central"expectation" motive (an upward minor second, retreating, then reaching upward by a tritone) which eventually leads to the door opening. The portentous heavy breathing accordion confronts an unassailable vision. The bowed cello behind the bridge represents the delicate unstable vision beyond our understanding. A descending six-note "revelation" theme follows. With revelation, much commotion follows as an attempt to integrate the intensity of the vision with the stagnation of habit and inertia. The expectation theme re-enters at a crucial moment leading to a climatic denunciation by the accordion. Then there’s a meditative section combining the expectation theme with an extended version of the revelation theme. But just as it seems a truly transcendent blissful moment is at hand, a trickle of pessimism creeps into the work, dividing the uniformity of the strings and causing a slide into dissension. The cello presents an inverted version of the expectation theme, representing cynicism. The strings loose all stability while the accordion tries to get a hold on things: It clings to the upper register while the strings lose their tone and fall into a primitive chaotic knocking at the door. Out of this a percussive march ensues, finally capped by the accordion harmonizing the revelation theme. This section represents a militant enforcement of the vision, which is doomed to failure. The accordion alone must drag itself back up and make the assent alone. Finally the strings support the accordion in a full communal resolution of the expectation theme but as the last bar suggests, there’s more trouble ahead..

Performers on this recording:

John Torcello (free bass accordion) and the Presidio String Quartet
(Shain Carrasco - cello, Ilana Matfis - viola, Deborah Katz and David Ryther - violins)

Full Score Here



Violin #1

Violin #2





NOTE: Though this recording was finished in 2011, this piece was originally the 4th movement of "Maneuvers" for accordion and string quartet (1999) but stood out in many ways from the others and I always wanted to hear it performed as a seperate piece. In 2010 through friends in the Irregular Resolutions composers group, I was finally able to realize this. Also vital is the dedication of accordionist John Torcello who did a remarkable job with the material. Thanks also to Robert Roger of RAMA Recording Studio and John Bilotta and Joe Torcello who assisted in the recording. The work is dedicated to the memory of Olivier Messiaen.