3rd Quartet

Holt, S. (2015) 3rd Quartet. [Composition]


For string quartet, duration 23 minutes. This work was co-commissioned by The Radcliffe Trust, NMC Recordings, Internationales Musikfestival Heidelberger Frühling and Wigmore Hall, with the support of André Hoffmann, president of the Fondation Hoffmann, the Swiss grant-making foundation. It was first performed on 19 January 2015 at the Wigmore Hall, London, by the JACK Quartet. A recording of this performance is available on NMC Recordings (NMC D216): https://nmc-recordings.myshopify.com/products/various-bracing-change. "My ‘3rd Quartet’ is the third of six pieces which comprise a cycle with the overall title Terrain. The six compositions are for different combinations of stringed instruments, in one instance with piano, which are arranged in the following order: / 1. String Sextet: the torturer’s horse / 2. everything turns away for piano quintet / 3. 3rd Quartet / 4. amapolas for string trio / 5. telarañas for violin and cello / 6. mantis for solo viola / In 3rd Quartet the musical material in the individual movements corresponds to the various pieces of the larger cycle, but in reverse order. Thus the music in Matins, the opening movement of the quartet, uses some of the material from the final viola solo mantis; (‘Matins’ is an anagram of ‘mantis’). The second movement Wu Ping’s nail house is obsessive and extreme, as stubborn as Wu Ping herself. Wu Ping refused to move from her house in Chongqing, China to make way for a new shopping mall, rejecting all offers of compensation. The construction company dug out the whole area, leaving her house on top of a column of earth. The third movement a ladder to the moon is a piece that travels from one terrain to another. expensive delicate ship, the fourth movement, refers to the Auden poem Musée des Beaux Arts, about the Breughel painting of Icarus falling from the sky, which has also been referred to in other pieces in the larger cycle. The fifth movement also picks up on a phrase from the same poem, namely the forsaken cry. The final movement is called Night’s mantle descends; as if night has its own terrain. 3rd Quartet is approximately 23 minutes long and is dedicated to my mother at 80." © Simon Holt

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