Lost Wax for the Kronos Quartet
Lost Wax is a deep dive into the field recordings of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. The project began five years ago in conversation with David Harrington, the artistic director of the Kronos Quartet. We wanted to create a new piece that would connect the dots between Bartók’s wax cylinder phonograph recordings and his string quartets. After listening to hundreds of these ancient village songs, I became deeply moved by a recording from 1907, “Mikor gulás legény voltam (When I was a shepherd).” It turned out that my connection to this melody was forged as a piano student, playing Bartók’s Bagatelle #4. Throughout the writing process of Lost Wax, I felt an otherworldly sense of beauty communing with voices of the past.
“Lost Wax” was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by the David Harrington Research and Development Fund. Permission to for Bartók’s wax cylinder recordings granted by the Neprajzi Museum of Ethnography in Budapest, Hungary.
photos: Tina Fineberg (New York Times) and Andrew Behar