Work

No. 38 (Three Small Pieces for String Quartet) (2003)

Richard Ayres

string quartet

Movements

  • 1. Tanase’s Eyes
  • 2. [untitled]
  • 3. “Countess Eva von Spendu (on a horse) gallops through the forest (pausing four times to contemplate natural splendor)”

Program Notes

Originally composed for the Mondriaan Quartet’s UK tour, although due to lack of rehearsal time only two of the three pieces were performed. The complete work was performed for the first time by the Bozzini Quartet in November 2008.

The first piece is a short tribute to the Rumanian singer Maria Tenase. The Quay brothers showed me a book containing photographs of the Tanase, once as popular in her country as Piaf was in France. I was very moved by one picture, a simple portrait, faded and in grainy black and white, but with her eyes so still piercing and alive. The music is an elegy for such beauty and spirit now faded. The solo violinist plays a simple melody accompanied by the other strings playing in the style of mandolins. Gradually the accompaniment breaks down leaving the solo isolated and alone.

The second piece in rough, fast, folk-like melody in 11/16 time, built upon the open strings of the cello, and accompanied by fast violins.

The last movement has the hopefully self explanatory title of “Countess Eva von Spendu (on an horse) gallops through the forest (pausing four times to contemplate natural splendor)”. It contains hunting gallops, a Feldmanesque 19 bar blues, some devilish fiddling, moments of repose and contemplation, and a lyrical finale.

Content:

  1. Tanase’s Eyes
  2.  
  3. “Countess Eva von Spendu (on a horse) gallops through the forest (pausing four times to contemplate natural splendor)”