Travel Journal Books I-III
String Quartet No. 2

Portland String Quartet

The plan of Travel Journal, unusual for a string quartet, resembles that of piano preludes by Chopin or Debussy. More than any other of LeVines’ compositions, Travel Journal reflects the composer’s reverence for the work of poet Matsuo Bashō, (1644-1694), celebrated for his haiku and travel journals. Travel Journal’s aesthetic is layered, fusing literary, musical, and historical associations. Each miniature is a response to a particular haiku of Bashō. Each alludes to a particular piece of music from European tradition. Dates and places given as titles are attached to events in the lives of composers whose music attracted LeVines’ attention while writing Travel Journal. For example, the first miniature invokes the following Bashō haiku -

last night of the month: no moon
thousand year old cedars
besieged by a storm

At the same time, the movement recalls a piano sonata by Beethoven. Lastly, the title -- March 26, Vienna -- is the date and place of Beethoven’s death, when according to tradition a thunderstorm was raging outside of his home.

Musical reference and homage unfolds as follows: Book I - Beethoven, Shostakovich, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Messiaen (Rochberg); Book II - Bach, Rochberg, Chopin, Vivaldi, Ives, Chopin (Beethoven), LeVines; Book III - Bartok, Schönberg, Debussy, Webern (Bach), Crumb (Ravel).

Travel Journal was awarded Tanglewood’s Grant Composition Prize, and won the Triennial Washington International Competition for String Quartet. The work was presented at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. as part of the American Music Festival. Travel Journal was recorded by the Portland String Quartet on Arabesque Records.

The most substantial work on the program was Travel Journal by Thomas Allen LeVines . . . The work was well crafted and imaginative, deserving not only of its prize, but also of subsequent hearings . . . it encompasses a broad range of moods and sounds, all displaying the composer’s obvious affection for the medium.
— The Washington Post, Roy Geunther

Travel Journal Books I-III
String Quartet No. 2

Portland String Quartet

Track Listing

    Book One:

  1. 1. March 26, Vienna

    みそか月なし千とせの杉を抱あらし misoka tsuki nashi chitose no sugi o daku arashi
    last night of the month: no moon thousand year old cedars besieged by a storm

    00:00 / 00:00
  2. 2. September 26, Leningrad

    起あがる菊ほのか也水のあと okiagaru kiku honoka nari mizu no ato
    rising up chrysanthemums faintly fragrant after a flooding rain

    00:00 / 00:00
  3. 3. December 19, Bonn

    夜ル密ニ虫は月下の栗を穿ツ yoru hisokani mushi wa gekka no kuri o ugatsu
    at night, secretly a worm in the moonlight digs into a chestnut

    00:00 / 00:00
  4. 4. April 6, New York

    古池や蛙飛こむ水のをと furuike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto
    old pond-- a frog jumps in the sound of water

    00:00 / 00:00
  5. 5. December 10, Avignon

    手をうてば木魂に明る夏の月 te o uteba kodama ni akuru natsu no tsuki
    I clap my hands the day breaks with the echoes the summer moon

    00:00 / 00:00
  6. Book Two:

  7. 6. March 21, Leipzig

    露萩の相撲ちからを撰ばれず tsuyu hagi no sumō chikara o erabarezu
    dew drops and bush clover wrestling with each other in a perfect match

    00:00 / 00:00
  8. 7. July 5, northeast of Philadelphia

    ほととぎす大竹薮をもる月夜 hototogisu ōtakeyabu o moru tsukiyo
    the cuckoo-- through the vast bamboo grove moonlight seeping

    00:00 / 00:00
  9. 8. October 17, Paris

    芭蕉野分して盥に雨を聞夜哉 bashō nowaki shite tarai ni ame o kiku yo kana
    banana plants in the autumn gale I listen to rain dripping in a basin at night

    00:00 / 00:00
  10. 9. March 4, Venice

    枯枝に烏のとまりけり秩の暮 kareeda ni karasu no tomarikeri aki no kure
    on a bare branch a crow is perched-- ­ autumn evening

    00:00 / 00:00
  11. 10. May 19, New York

    声すみて北斗にひゞく砧哉 koe sumite hokuto ni hibiku kinuta kana
    someone pounding cloth-- the clear sound echoes to the Big Dipper

    00:00 / 00:00
  12. 11. March 1, southwest of Warsaw

    此秋は何で年よる雲に鳥 kono aki wa nan de toshiyoru kumo ni tori
    this autumn why am I aging so? birds flying into the clouds

    00:00 / 00:00
  13. 12. December 27, Alexandria

    初雪や水仙のはのたはむまで hatsuyuki ya suisen no ha no tawamu made
    the first snow-- just enough to bend the daffodil leaves

    00:00 / 00:00
  14. Book Three:

  15. 13. March 15, northeast of Bucharest

    冬庭や月もいとなるむしの吟 fuyu-niwa ya tsuki mo ito naru mushi no gin
    a winter garden-- the moon thins to a thread insects’ singing fades

    00:00 / 00:00
  16. 14. July 13, Los Angeles

    海くれて鴨の聲ほのかに白し umi kurete kamo no koe honokani shiroshi
    the sea darkens-- and the wild ducks’ calls are faintly white

    00:00 / 00:00
  17. 15. March 25, Paris

    荒海や佐渡によこたふ天河 araumi ya sado ni yokotau amanogawa
    the rough sea-- stretching toward Sado Isle the Milky Way

    00:00 / 00:00
  18. 16. December 3, Vienna

    木枯やたけにかくれてしづまりぬ kogarashi ya take ni kakurete shizumarinu
    a wintry gust disappears into the bamboo and subsides to a calm

    00:00 / 00:00
  19. 17. October 24, southwest of Philadelphia

    旅に病で夢は枯野をかけ廻る tabi ni yande yume wa kareno o kakemeguru
    on a journey, ailing my dreams wander about over the withered moor

    00:00 / 00:00

— Matsuo Bashō, trans. Tadashi Kondo