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StarWaves (Guitar Quartet No. 10)

Op. 63 | Guitar Quartet | 2013

StarWaves (on a song of Nick Drake), Krouse's tenth guitar quartet, is a tribute to English singer-songwriter Nick Drake who took his own life. The piece is featured on Minneapolis Guitar Quartet's newest album, Evocación.

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StarWaves (excerpt) - Ian Krouse
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“The other piece on the disc is a commission from American composer Ian Krouse called Starwaves (On a Song of Nick Drake). The “Song” on which Krouse based his work for the MGQ is called “Hanging on a Star” which was one of the last tunes Drake recorded, and didn’t appear on an album until a 1987 release of outtakes and rarities. (Dare to be obscure, Ian!) But it’s a cool song and Krouse and the MGQ use it as a springboard to inventive extrapolations on the original’s brooding rhythmic thrum and haunting melody, and, needless to say, over the course of close to 15 minutes, it goes far, far astray from Drake’s 2:49 version—touching on all sorts of musical moods, from delicate introspective passages to clashing rhythmic bursts. It’s a very compelling, multilayered piece; a truly unique portrait of a troubled but gentle artist.”

Blair Jackson, CLASSICAL GUITAR, April 17, 2019


“On this disc, the new work is Ian Krouse's StarWaves, which is tribute to English singer and songwriter Nick Drake, who took his own life in 1974. StarWaves is based on Drake's song Hanging On A Star and, in fact, begins by quoting it literally. Music continues where words leave off, however, and Drake's intimate vocal style is replaced by the guitar quartet. Over the course of 14 minutes (making it the longest single movement work on this CD) Krouse explores the wavelike ebbing and flowing of Drake's mental state during the period leading up to his suicide—the period in which he wrote the song. In essence, this is a classical work based on a rock/pop idea, and it is quite successful, as well as emotionally involving.”

Raymond Tuttle, FANFARE, Summer, 2019


 “an original work written for the quartet by the UCLA composer Ian Krouse. The tenth of his eleven guitar quartets, it is entitled Starwaves (On a Song of Nick Drake). Nick Drake was an English singer/songwriter who committed suicide in his mid-20s. Krouse has not dealt with suicide directly in Starwaves; rather, he imagines the emotional roller coaster the suicidal person lives through in his everyday life. This work is very close to my heart. I survived a suicide attempt in my late teens, and currently suffer from Bipolar Disorder and anxiety. I have been dealing with suicidal ideation from day to day for 28 years. Krouse has given expression to what my emotional life feels like on a daily basis. He is not averse to the fact that there can be great beauty in the tristesse one feels from the fragility of human existence. Even though Starwaves at times builds to almost unbearable peaks of psychic desolation, the humanity of the suffering soul never escapes Krouse. There are wonderfully unquiet soft passages that portray the absence of calm even in silence for the suicidal personality, with a slightly edgy sense that the music is emotionally a tilt. Even though this is an ensemble piece, Krouse conveys the isolation the suicidal individual feels and often physically craves. It is no accident that the two relationships with women Nick Drake had as an adult apparently never were consummated. Krouse appreciates the terror of intimacy for the suicidal, and how personal contact can be dangerously unnerving. Starwaves ends with a feeling of all passion spent, the emotional exhaustion such a life yields—only to be swept away on the roller coaster once again. As emotionally draining as Starwaves is, truthfully there should be a da capo after the last note. The MGQ play this work, which they premiered,  with immense sensitivity and artistry. It only goes to show that there are new vistas and topics for composition opening up in our generation.”

Dave Saemann, FANFARE, October, 2019

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