Paraphrase was composed in January 1996. It was first performed on July 23, 1997, by the Onyx String Quartet. As the title suggests, Paraphrase is a reworking of my earlier Two Pieces for Chamber Ensemble, which is scored for flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello, piano, and percussion. The translation between these two media was something that interested me greatly, the challenge being to create something that was completely idiomatic for the strings even though it was not originally conceived for them.
The piece is cast in two movements, the first of which is a slow passacaglia (ie. a piece based on a repeated melody or bass line) framed by an explosive introduction and conclusion. Over the course of the passacaglia, the entrances of the theme speed up and overlap, becoming a series of mensuration canons. The second movement releases the explosive energy of the first movement, spinning out as a lively and virtuosic romp.