I The Quote
The title of the quartet invites the listener to look at Romanticism through the Kaleidoscope of post modern cynicism. The opening is an oblique reference to a subsidiary idea, played by the cello, in Dvorak's Cello Concerto, Third Movement, and it is a kind of signpost or point of reference for the capricious departures that follow. Although the piece is completely notated and is made from traditional tonal materials, the seemingly unpredictable shifts and juxtapositions give the impression of an extended improvisation. Chorales A and B are really variations of each other, and the latter part of the Finale recalls the music of earlier movements.
Although the close harmony and duets suggest the textures of big bands of the forties, all references to jazz or popular roots are eschewed in order to put the work on a more abstract basis. In its effect, Dvorak, Anyone? is closest to the late Romantic French conservatory pieces for saxophone quartet, with the kind of flexibility of expression usually reserved for the string quartet. The piece was written for Kathleen Maxwell and her group after hearing her transcription of a Beethoven string quartet movement that she had performed.