Snow Country for String Quartet by Marco Galvani.

Programme Notes

Snow Country is a single movement work for string quartet inspired by the book of the same title by the Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata. The overwhelming beauty and awe-inspiring stillness of nature are central themes to this book, in contrast with the chaos brought about by mankind. In this piece, which draws its structure out from the central chordal motif at the beginning of the piece, I wanted to create a feeling of poise between areas of stillness where one can reflect on the slow passage of time in the natural world, with sudden frantic moments that occur around us constantly in human society. This piece is not representational, there is nothing intended within this work to evoke the character of snow dancing, or a single character in a snowy landscape. Rather, the motions of the four string instruments, constantly in conversation, reflect the inherent capriciousness of the natural world, with fragments of music varying in timescale enormously from moment to moment. For example, one moment there is an impression that a melody is about to emerge, or a particular sonority, but the ear is diverted by another feature that initially seemed insignificant earlier in the piece. Despite this constant changing of perspective throughout the work, there is an underlying quality that remains to all of the musical material in this piece, which is the notion of constant change and motion. As the colours of  a landscape constantly change as the sun sets, so the colours of this work are constantly evolving through time, in order to create the impression of organicism, with the overall feeling of stability on a large scale.

- Marco Galvani

Performance Notes

For ease of reading, performance directions such as 'molto sul ponticello' are abbreviated to 'm.s.p.'. The same is true for vibrato indications (e.g. p.v. = poco vibrato), sul tasto indications (e.g. p.s.t. = poco sul tasto) and col legno (e.g. 1/2 c.l.= 1/2 col legno battuto). Bowings are given as a general guide and are not strictly notated.

Duration: 15 minutes