“First, there was a Borromeo-only curtain-raiser: Mohammed Fairouz’s ‘Chorale Fantasy,’ premiered by the quartet last year. Fairouz’s music is thoughtfully cross-cultural; the ‘Chorale Fantasy’ explores that trope with restrained effect. Modernist tangles turned into medieval austerity, while contrapuntal lines starting in Romantic territory, reminiscent of, say, Max Reger, tipped over into more maqam-like inflections. Kitchen cantillated against a rhythmically insistent drone from the other three, which then transformed into a whirl of dance. But the overall tone was contemplative, searching, and optimistic. The gentle friction between notes and styles and eras resolved, at the end, into a glowing triad.” —Matthew Guerrieri, Boston Globe
Chorale Fantasy was written in response to the Borromeo String Quartet’s initiative to commission a set of chorale preludes. This short work lives in the world between maqam (Arabic modes) and gentle counterpoint. It opens with a short introduction leading to a violin line with unheard lyrics against an insisting drone. It then conspires into a whirling dance reaching a vocal climax and returns at the end to the gentleness of the opening. All of the parts of Chorale Fantasy are written within the singing range of the human voice. The work is affectionately dedicated to the Borromeo Quartet.