My String Quartet has four contrasting movements, and I have attempted to make it a showpiece, in which all four players have an equal slice of the action.
It starts with a tough restless movement where there are two themes; one is bold and angular and has a spiky cross-rhythm accompaniment; the other is mellow and has a warmer quantity. These two opposing ideas are developed in a sort of sonata form argument.
The notes of the first theme are used as the basis of the concise witty pizzicato second movement.
For the slow movement the theme is again transformed, this time into a long elegant line. Marked con sordini (muted) the theme weaves its way in layers of contrapuntal writing building to a loud climax. These layers move closer together antiphonally as it falls away to a subdued ending. The Finale is vigorous and rhythmic; I made frequent use of the open strings in double-stopped passages; this gives the movement a gritty quality. The main pillars of the movement are dispersed with short virtuosic passages passed around the quartet in a flurry of activity.
© Paul Patterson
(This programme note can be reprinted in concert programmes with a credit to the composer)
Commission: The Chester Festival for the Delme String Quartet
Dedication: ‘To Sydney Griller’
Publisher: Universal Edition
Chester Festival, 24th Jul 1986
Delme String Quartet