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The Suite for String Quartet was composed in response to a commission by Christopher Prosser. He asked me to arrange several of his violin tunes for a string quartet to play. In the process I discovered that I need to create some new material to link sections together but mostly I maintained the direct integrity and simplicity of the tunes. Development came from varying textures and changing keys.
Commissioned by Christopher Prosser
1. Person of ethnic origin
The challenge here was to make sense of the rhythm of Chris’s tune. I did this by breaking it down into shorter lengths and using changing time signatures bar by bar e.g. 5/8, 2/4, 5/8, 3/8. The viola sets us off with the main theme and by degrees the other instruments join in. Much use is made of canons and sudden key changes. The movement ends abruptly with a low held note on cello.
2. Looking into the distance
This was the first piece I worked on. The cello enters on artificial harmonics with a slow and simple expansive tune played in minims. The other instruments enter in stretto with muted strings. A change of pace now to an allegro section and a heavy ‘sephardic’ dance section before a return to the opening mood of reflection and peace.
3. A Fond Memory
A graceful dance-like melody with light accompaniment.
4. Hilly Day
The violin begins with a very catchy toe-tapping tune. Contrast comes from a very ‘English’ tune, somewhat akin to Vaughan-Williams. At the finale the cello suddenly seems to disagree - but only for a moment and the work ends with a pizzicato chord.