Thomas Adès’s new string quartet, ‘The Four Quarters’, was premiered at Carnegie Hall, New York, by the Emerson String Quartet on the 12th March.  The work was commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the Emerson's and will be performed by them in LA, Paris and the UK over the coming months.

The dazzling new work received the following review from Steve Smith of the New York Times:
‘The Four Quarters,’ a new string quartet by the British composer Thomas Adès heard in its premiere, emerged from a penumbral twilight left in Debussy’s wake to describe a day’s progress. In “Nightfalls,” the first of its four movements, high, keening tendrils on the violins stretched over dusky, yawning chords from the viola and cello. Swelling slowly to a sudden climax, the music cut off sharply, then began again.
In “Morning Dew” spattered plucks alternated with radiant, flashing bow strokes. Mr. Drucker, on second violin, opened “Days” with a syncopated ostinato; the other players, initially floating over its clockwork regularity, were swept into lockstep at the movement’s climax. The last movement, “The Twenty-Fifth Hour,” required the performers to negotiate complex patterns in 25/16 time; that their labor sounded more like swaying than counting was a testament to their acumen and ensemble integrity. That sense of disguised challenge was pervasive in this deeply satisfying work, which seemed less concerned with the virtuoso technique required to play it than with the ideas and conjurations it presented.
New York Times (Steve Smith), 13 March 2011

Read about the Emerson Quartet preparing for the premiere of The Four Quarters on the Southbank Centre Classical Music Blog