Cuatro Canciones was commissioned by the Yoav Chamber Ensemble and premiered at the Schoenberg Institute in Los Angeles in 1983. In keeping with the generally introspective and thoughtful nature of the texts, the vocal part is primarily reflective and expressive, while the instrumental ensemble provides color and commentary.

Each song has its own predominate interval or melodic cell (“Pause of the Clock” – minor second and minor third; “Night” – major second; “The Moon Rising” – perfect fourth and tritone; “Farewell” – major third and perfect fifth), each song adding its own cell to those already presented. These accumulated motives are all referenced in the final song, Lorca's elegant, poignant “Despidida.”