The title is taken from the seventeenth century Latin word Catena meaning a chain, row or series. This abstract is reflected in the composition of the piece; sections of each movement are built from short melodic motives, which once stated, keep recurring.
The first movement opens with a moment of quiet contemplation before the viola resolutely states the main theme and is followed in canon by each of the other instruments. The second movement is cyclic in structure, comprised of four sections (ABCA); the first is comparatively bright and sunny in mood, the second a quirky dance employing string glissandi, the third builds in intensity, employing clashing harmonies and fast tightly-knit motives and the fourth, a diminished iteration of the first section. The third movement is playful in character and begins with a call and response between all parts before turning into a lively dance in 7/8. The rhythmic interplay between groups of two and three quavers continues until the end of the piece.
Dedicated to Kathleen Helyer
I. Adagio, andante
II. Allegro moderato
05 Oct 2005: Performed by the Pacific String Quartet as part of the Ensemble Philharmonia Series