Charles Wuorinen’s Percussion Quartet was written in 1994 for The New Music Consort, New
Jersey Percussion Ensemble, and the Percussion Group Cincinnati. It was premiered in 1995
by The New Jersey Percussion Ensemble.
Wuorinen’s Percussion Quartet is true to his mature style – it is dense, complex, athletic, and
challenging. Performing this work is a herculean task, but the result is a thrill-ride adventure
through myriad textures and harmonies. The first movement is marked with vibraphone and
marimba flurries, timpani choruses, anvil and almglocken rips, cymbal and gong splashes, wood
clouds, and drum cadenzas. Wuorinen stacks the voices, harmonies, colors, and textures into a
multi-layered and multi-dimensional sound world, brimming with the energy of his musical
brilliance and his performers’ virtuosity. The second movement settles-not calmer but seemingly
more organized in a lilting meter. The material is no less charged, no less sophisticated, but
appears more immediately clearer to the ear because of adherence to a central beat. This is a
percussion quartet after all, and one may expect four drummers to rock to the end with
explosions and fireworks. If so, this work lives up to its title. – Program note by Samuel Solomon
Player 1: Vibraphone, crotales, 6 anvils, 6 temple blocks, 2 bongos, 1 timpano
Player 2: Vibraphone, 4 almglocken, 6 temple blocks, 6 single-headed tom toms, 1 timpano
Player 3: Marimba (4.3 octave), 2 suspended cymbals, 4 double-headed tom toms, 1 timpano
Player 4: Marimba (4.3 octave), medium tamtam, 2 bass drums, claves, 1 timpano
Duration – 18’~20’ (Mvt I – 10’50”, Mvt II – 7’30”)

Annotated by Reed Puleo