String Quartet (in memoriam Béla Bartók)
This quartet was composed using a technique of layered improvisations in the studio. Throughout, the work explores physical and sonic fragility, each instrument experimenting with moments of tension, breaking, and collapse (in the arms and fingers, as much as in timbre and shape). The piece invites reflection on and an acceptance of half-ness, in-betweens, incompleteness and being ‘not quite there’, in both sound and gesture. The first movement – “Dark, Tendrilous (like something from the depths)” – plays with the tangling and weaving of microtonal threads. Its meandering, fragmented melodies, recalling shadowy figures from Bartók’s own quartets, are drawn together loosely before winding down and unravelling, never quite reaching conclusions. The second movement – “Crystalline (breaking, shattering, falling)” – is an exploration of texture focused on scratchwork, pressure, and bright, harsh timbres. It is driven by the physicality and sensation of experimental techniques, by the concentrated point of contact between bow and string, the scratch of rosin powder, and the tension of metal and wood. The third movement – “Still, Glistening (like an ocean under starlight, or a sheet of glass)” – moves into a hovering soundworld of ghostly harmonics and flautando bowing, gradually opening into a plaintive chant in four parts.