The String Quartet No 1 dates from 1966, not long after Glass had completed his composition studies in Paris with the redoubtable French pedagogue, Nadia Boulanger. Pierre Boulez and his established Parisian avant-garde
failed to hold the young American in their thrall and he turned to other, less readily radical sources. One such source that proved of real significance was a commission by the former drunk, drug addict and some-time film-maker, Conrad Rooks, to transcribe Ravi Shankar’s score for the bizarre film, Chappaqua
for conventional Western instruments. The cyclical structures and rhythm patterns of Indian music afforded Glass the first glimmerings of what he would develop into a style he might call his own. The first of his mature quartets, while not exhibiting any explicit link to Indian music, does employ certain repeating patterns and cyclical procedures. Although the style is leaning towards more original works to come, eg the use, when performed live, of a two minute theatrical pause between Part 1 and Part 2, the pulse is not yet entirely stable and the harmony retains a good sprinkling of chromatic writing, the drones and short motifs, in particular, occasionally bringing Shostakovich in melancholy mood to mind.
from notes by Signum Classics © 2007