String Quartet Philip Venables

String Quartet cover
16 mins
2003 to 2006

Small Ensemble String Quartet

2 Violin, 1 Viola, 1 Violoncello

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Programme note

This piece, my first String Quartet, divulges all of its music within the striking, folkish viola solo at the very beginning. All three movements begin with the same gesture, and each has similar elements of violence and lyricism, but the first movement is far more organic and freely flowing than the later movements. The music moves through several different
harmonic and rhythmic zones, always carried by a continuation of the passionate opening viola melody. A faster, more violent central section, characterised by stabbing chords and aggressive rising figures, breaks down to a broad and pained melody, blurred between the upper strings. Finally, a more reflective and sinuous coda returns the viola melody back to
its home.

String Quartet was first performed by the Artea Quartet (Thomas Gould, Rhys Watkins, Benjamin Roskams, Ashok Klouda) at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester on 10th January 2004, as part of the International String Quartet Festival, QuartetFest 2004. It was given its London Premiere in the Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music, on 23rd April 2004 as part of the Omaggio Festival celebrating the life and music of Luciano Berio. This movement is dedicated to Rizwan Ifrahim.

Two more movements were written later and premiered by the Duke Quartet at Wigmore Hall, Wigmore Street, London, on 5th December 2006, and performed again in the following days at The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh and The Gate, Cardiff. These movements have since been withdrawn for revision.


Artea Quartet, International String Quartet Festival (QuartetFest 2004), RNCM, Manchester, 10th January 2004