On 29 September the Salomé Quartet premiere David Matthews’ String Quartet No.16 at the Beverley Chamber Music Festival in Yorkshire. The concert is proceeded by a discussion session with Matthews about his life and career, in conversation with Dr. Lucy Walker.
The new work is dedicated to Matthews’ friend Hugh Wood, a composer who has had a profound influence on Matthews’ life and music, who passed away in August 2021. Matthews’ complete string quartets have been recorded over several volumes by the Kreutzer Quartet. A Fugue for Hugh for solo piano, another piece dedicated to Wood’s memory, was premiered at the Presteigne Festival by Tim Horton on 30 August.
Like his 1st, 3rd, and 14th quartets, the 12-minute piece is cast in a single movement comprised of three distinct sections. It draws on a melodic motif from Wood’s string trio Ithaka, his last completed work. The quartet opens with an Andante with an undulating theme on the viola, extended by the violin before a miniature chorale, followed by a more rapid development before the Andante returns. A change of pace and mood comes with an A major scherzo of boisterous triplets; a more serious trio in A minor follows. The concluding section is marked Lento con molto espressione; at its centre is birdsong - a robin notated by Matthews, which was the only bird singing in the winter of 2021 he composed the piece. The opening Andante returns quietly, before a reprise of the earlier chorale in string harmonics.
October performances of Matthews’ chamber music include Sara Trickey and Ivana Gavrić playing David Matthews’ three-movement Adonis for violin and piano, a work inspired by Greek myth, in a programme at the Little Missenden Festival with narration from writer Marina Warner (13 October). Nicholas Daniel and Huw Watkins also give a performance of Matthews’ 2022 Oboe Sonata, premiered this summer at the Presteigne Festival, on 23 October at the Free Church in Hampstead Garden Suburb.