String Quartet III
- c 18'
- First performance
- 1 March 2011, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, York, UK
String Quartet III was written over the course of 2009-10. The first movement explores how the string quartet can be divided into pairs of voices – starting with the two violins and the viola and cello, but gradually employing different pairs of instruments throughout the movement. The pitch material is based on a sequence of alternating perfect fifths and major thirds moving spider-like through the various possible scalic patterns. Despite it’s 4/4 time signature, the predominant rhythmic material is an irregular pattern of groups of two and three quavers – treated in canon at the quaver.
The second movement (continuing attacca from the first) explores the same material, gradually building the harmonies into a thick chordal texture, before the tension is slowly resolved into an E pedal in the viola.
The third movement builds from this with a new melodic idea, but building from the perfect fifths and major thirds that have dominated the material of the preceding movements. Semiquaver movement drives forward almost moto perpetuo before a delicate slower middle section. The ‘cello reintroduces the semiquaver idea which builds in intensity until a quasi-cadenza outburst from the first violin leads into a the calmer and harmonically static coda, which gradually disappears into a gradually fading layer of harmonic glissandi.