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Icefield Sonnets (2004)

(String Quartet No. 2)

Listen to Excerpts: 

Icefield Sonnets, I. - excerpt
Icefield Sonnets, II. - excerpt
Icefield Sonnets, III. - excerpt

Duration: 12 minutes



I. Cold is a cell

II. Glass is a place

III. North is a notion


World Premiere:  Commissioned and premiered by the Ying Quartet on February 13, 2005, Eastman School of Music, Rochester. NY.


Program Notes:

Icefield Sonnets was written for the Ying Quartet and was inspired by the poetry of Anthony Hawley. Each poem in the set speaks of the notion of “north,” specifically in the winter months, and it was my aim to capture some of the different moments of “coldness,” from quiet stillness to more violent activity. Like the set of poems, the piece is in three movements, the first marked “Cold, airy, suspended, like an ice crystal,” the second “driving forward,” and the third “Sustained.” Icefield Sonnets by Anthony Hawley


1.                                                 2.                                                   3.

Cold is a cell                             Glass is a place                           North is a notion

In which one is allowed        From which to view                And a motion tundra’s

To walk around the lake      Withinwithout                          Stilled grammar

And think of walking            Say hellogoodbye                     Or the beauty of scant

Or defend the logic                 In the same line                        And drowned out

Of glacial water                       Or move across                          Reverberate

Sing the oval                             An icy surface                            Throughout the town

With a skate’s blade                Inches forward                          Built in planks round

Habits of its shape                  Years witness                              About the river forks

The way a lip                            Little change                              The mouth’s glissade

Leaves an imprint                    Requires a fixed gaze               In which direction

On glass a trace                        To observe glacial                     Doesn’t matter

Air enough just                        Motion the elk                          There’s north enough

To shake the frame                 Make stirrings                            To keep lips frozen


-- Pierre Jalbert


© 2016 Pierre Jalbert, Icefield Sonnets (String Quartet No. 2)

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