No 13 is the most compact of Simpson’s later Quartets. There are four short movements which play without a break and adopt a fast–slow–fast–slow pattern. A bold, leaping figure on first violin outlining the notes of the triad sets the Quartet into motion. Though concise, this highly athletic Allegro instantly creates a vigorous current through closely imitative writing and (latterly) through the introduction of pattering triplet configurations. The following Andante is again largely contrapuntal in design, opening with a meditative violin melody, against a sustained low C on the cello. There is one brief climax which quickly subsides to reveal the Vivace, a kind of duple-time Scherzo full of half-lights and muttering ostinati. This Vivace, the most elaborate of the four movements, becomes more hard-driven as it progresses, culminating in a passage of sustained ferocity, requiring great intensity from the players. But it is bluntly halted, leaving a slow, chorale-like epilogue marked ppp, ma sempre espressivo, which swiftly eases all the former turbulence.
from notes by Matthew Taylor © 1997