STRING QUARTET (1994-2001)
Spring Dance; Summer Air; Navajo Sandstone; Snow, wind and water
Duration: 21 minutes
Programme note String Quartet takes inspiration from several sources. The first movement is based on a somewhat gypsy-like melodic cell, juxtaposed with tarantella episodes that reflect the explosion of nature in spring. ‘Navajo Sandstone’ was inspired by a photograph in a friend’s calendar, of a narrow sandstone canyon carved out by what must once have been a river. The stone is smooth and undulating, and light is filtering down from above, caressing the beautiful colours and curves of the rock. ‘Snow, wind and wate’r was stimulated by Turner’s famous painting of a steamer at sea in a snowstorm. The music takes the perspective of a snowflake driven wildly by the exultant elements, with the muffled beating of the ship’s engines in the background. The guardian or angelic presence subtly visible in Turner’s seascape takes the voice of a muted viola that sings and guides the steamer through the storm. In the form of these three movements the Quartet received its première from the Quatour Terpsycordes, at the 2001 Amadeus Festival, Geneva. ‘Summer Air’ was then added to provide some contrast and aeration against the relative density of the other three movements; it reflects a magical moment when the composer saw insects flying and seeds floating in a meadow in a soft summer light. It was thus by chance that the quartet in its final form follows the sequence of the seasons.