String Quartet No.9

(2000)

by David Matthews

Description
String quartet
Duration
22
Genres
String Quartet
Commission
Commissioned by the Mandelring Quartet, with financial support from the Ministerium fur Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst Baden-Wurttemberg, the Stifung Pfalzische Hypothekenbank and the Forderkreis HAMBACHERMUSIKFEST e. V.
First Performance
15.6.01, Fifth Hambrachermusikfest, Neustadt, Germany: Mandelring Quartet
Availability

Score (fp) 0-571-56639-1 and set of parts (fp) 0-571-56640-5 on sale

Programme Notes
David Matthews String Quartet no.9, op.80 My Ninth Quartet began fortuitously in February 2000 after I had written a short piano piece for the 75th birthday of my friend Donald Mitchell. I found that this piano piece would work well as string quartet music, and that I had the beginning of a first movement, which I then drafted in ten days. It is a short sonata movement: the first subject is introduced by each of the instruments in turn; the second subject is given to the 2nd violin. By the time I had finished the first movement I had decided on a four-movement structure, with the two middle movements considerably longer than the outer movements. The Adagio second movement bears the emotional weight of the Quartet. It is modelled to a certain extent on the slow movement of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony, with two successively more elaborate repeats of the long first paragraph separated by chant-like contrasting music, which at its second appearance introduces a wistful reminiscence of the 2nd violins’ tune from the first movement. The third movement is an extended tango, whose opening section is based on a tango for cello and piano that I wrote in August 1999. The movement contains three successive tangos, the second of which acts also as a development of the first one, followed by a repeat of the first tango which also includes references to the other two. The tango seems to me to be an ideal substitute for the Classical minuet: a contemporary dance form with infectious rhythms, capable of much subtle variation. For the finale, which follows without a break, I originally had the finale of Chopin’s B flat minor Sonata in mind: it is a moto perpetuo, beginning darkly with chromatic unison phrases based on inversions of the first movement’s material; but the music gradually becomes polyphonic and its character abruptly changes when it bursts into D major and the two violins begin a kind of Irish jig, which ends the Quartet in a mood of quiet exuberance. The Quartet was commissioned by the Mandelring Quartet and is dedicated to them. David Matthews

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