My third string quartet was commissioned by the Smith Quartet (London) and first performed by them in 1994 at the Brighton Festival. The work more or less disappeared from view until 2000, when the Goldner String Quartet played it at the opening of the Angel Place Recital Hall in Sydney. It was this performance that caught the ear of Richard Tognetti, Artistic Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and he asked whether it could be arranged for his band. The intention of the original work was to transform four stringed instruments into a single "super" instrument while capitalising on their natural singing qualities. A kind of aural alchemy. Although the very structure of the original work was predicated on the techniques used to create certain effects, this remains much the same in the new version for string orchestra, and some parts required little amendment. The potential to "share" difficult techniques across more than one instrument has in many ways liberated the music, allowing greater emphasis on its lyric qualities.
‘Full of challenging effects, the work passes certain ideas back and forth across the orchestra with occasional lyrical moments providing points of satisfying consolidation. Stuttering themes on high strings, racing pizzicati, and stamping passages on cellos and basses bring Prokofiev and Bartók to mind, but Vine is no pale imitation, especially given the highly individual way he creates solo moments for violin, viola and cello, each of whom made the most of their opportunities while maintaining the tightness of ensemble and cast-iron technique that the composer demands at all times. If that sounds a little cerebral – and it probably looks that way on paper – the effect is far from elusive with plenty of sweet, singing music that is complex yet emotionally rewarding. The MSO’s virtuoso string playing culminated in a maelstrom of skirling violins that signed off with a final cinematic flourish.’
Limelight (Clive Paget), 22 October 2019