Four Nocturnes (Night Music II) (1964) by George Crumb
for violin and prepared piano

Four Nocturnes is a further essay in the quiet nocturnal mood of my Night Music I for soprano, keyboard, and percussion (composed in 1963); hence the subtitle Night Music II. The four pieces constituting the work are prefaced with the following indications:

The music is of the utmost delicacy and the prevailing sense of ‘suspension in time’ is only briefly interrupted by the animated and rhythmically more forceful second piece. The sustained lyric idea presented at the beginning of the work, the nervous tremolo effects, and the stylized bird songs are all recurrent elements.

In composing the Four Nocturnes I had attempted a modification of the traditional treatment of the violin-piano combination by exploiting various timbral resources of the instruments. Thus a certain integration in sound is achieved by requiring both instruments to produce harmonics, pizzicato effects, rapping sounds (on the wood of the violin; on the metal beams of the piano). The gentle rustling sounds which conclude the work are produced by the application of a percussionist's wire brush to the strings of the piano.

— G. C.    

[from program for March 31, 2014 concert]