The Piano Quartet 'Beyond the Misty Doors of Memory' is about images from the past.
In the first movement “The Old and Grey”, the image is evoked of old people literally moving in the mists of their own memories while walking on a misty morning among big old trees; sitting down on a bench, wondering how it all used to be, and how it all came to be as it is.
The second-part 'The Green-Walled Garden' is a homage to Zwaag’s former home and childhood; memories of a child, and nostalgia over his lost youth.
The third-part 'Variations' is on the theme of longing, recalling former times. It begins quietly, building up dramatically in tempo and through several 'variations' towards the end when the atmosphere becomes lighter, culminating in a resolute coda in which memories of the past re-emerge.
The Piano Quartet was written as a counterpart of the Piano Trio. While the Piano Trio “Requiem” is about death, the Quartet is about life and memories of life. Life versus Death; are an important theme in the Zwaag’s music, which can also be found in his compositions “The Pity of War“, and in his First Symphony.
In the summer of 2003 American troops under the command of President Bush attacked to depose the dictatorship of Sadam Hussain. Television screens were full of images of wounded and dying men, women, and children.
With these images, the “Piano Trio Requiem“ was composed.
The opening melody is born out of Zwaag’s aversion to the suffering of others. The hesitant, mourning tones of the violin are supported by the cello, plaintively finding their way, and climaxing together in an agonised cry, after which they die away to make place for the piano’s death march. This is followed by a new theme, the main theme of the piece, which reappears in every movement. The repeat of the piano’s death march brings the first movement to an end.
The next movement starts as an explosion of outrage; we hear the main theme re-emerge in different moods; the desolate theme of the first movement reappears, followed by the renewed feelings of outrage. Implicit in the return of the theme are feelings of grief at the amount of injustice in the world.
The dreamy third movement (andante sostenuto), is a song full of hope with some re-emergence of the main theme.
The last movement gives the impression that Zwaag is looking for an optimistic conclusion, but the plaintive tones of the beginning demand to be heard and it is on this theme that the piece dies away. The circle is complete.