Playground Ensemble String Quartet

Loretta K. Notareschi: String Quartet OCD

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The 22-minute String Quartet OCD that appears on this album, the only work on the program, is a representational work, depicting the development of a condition that most listeners, even those who've experienced childbirth, may not have heard of: not OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, but PPOCD, or postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, which, according to the notes by composer Loretta K. Notareschi, affects three to five percent of postpartum women. "I bonded deeply with my daughter," Notareschi recalls. "At the same time I intermittently had scary thoughts about harming her or myself. Terrified, I tried to counter the thoughts with certain repetitive behaviors, phrases, images, thoughts, and musical patterns." The four movements of the quartet, which correspond reasonably well to the genre's traditional four movements and make the work listenable even for those with no idea about its program, depict stages in Notareschi's ailment: "Intruders" are the unwanted thoughts themselves; "You Must Think I'm Made of Candy Glass" was one of the phrases she repeated; "Shame," a dissonant movement with a bleakly tumultuous middle section, represents the composer's reaction to her plight; and "A Second Delivery," the finale, refers to her eventual recovery. The commercial impact of the album suggests that PPOCD is perhaps a more common affliction than has been supposed, and the work may be recommended to anyone struggling with the condition in any guise.

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