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String Quartet No 4


Adrian Williams’ String Quartet No 4, premiered to acclaim at Presteigne in 2009 exhibits a deeply felt emotional core and reflects the atmosphere and wide open spaces of the composer’s Welsh Borderland surroundings with a renewed sense of wonder and mystery. Highlighted as ‘the outstanding contribution’ to the 2009 Festival in the Guardian, the Carducci Quartet is thrilled to record this work.

The composer writes:

This Quartet follows eighteen years after its predecessor, and to some extent has similar roots, a dark explosive period in life followed by a more positive one. Much of my music is influenced by personal events in life. I find that whilst it’s hard to write at all during periods of extreme difficulty, once that eases the music that appears contains much pent up emotional energy. So it is with this quartet.
The cello begins the first movement with a long climbing angular melodic line, joined one by one by the other players leading to an agonising raw descent in octaves. This initial music sets the underlying tone for the movement, although the whole opening section is a sequence of contrasts including a serene climbing melody and deathly quiet and still moments. The vivace begins abruptly, the players once more in octaves. The music of these two parts interact and offset each other, and a second moment of serenity precedes the final tearing and ferocious bars.
The slow movement is a total contrast, seemingly dark at first, but as the principal themes revolve the music is often very lyrical and even fleetingly reminiscent of Beethoven, and at times the themes seem to fight the underlying harmony in moments which could be recalling past woes. Finally the movement is brought to a close as it draws inwards to a simple close major chord.
There was some debate with myself as to whether a scherzo should follow, leading to an affirmative finale, but in the end I discovered that the ideas already existing for a finale only needed a slower introduction. I knew I wanted to return to music of both preceding movements, and so the idea became to ease the allegro molto feeling without changing the pulse (which I do more elaborately in my Second Quartet), and this is how the harmonic feel of the slow movement returns. The allegro molto springs back to life, but soon breaks down and claws its way con forza towards one note, heralding the agitated music from the first movement. In the end, there is a huge broadening as the opening climbing cello line is heard in reverse, the final notes anchoring it to a triumphant coda. (Adrian Willaims)

from notes by Signum Classics © 2013


Berkeley (M), McCabe & Williams: String Quartets & Oboe Quintet
Studio Master: SIGCD350Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Movement 1: Moderato flessibile, vivace
Track 7 on SIGCD350 [6'54] Download only
Movement 2: Lento e calmo
Track 8 on SIGCD350 [7'01] Download only
Movement 3: Allegro moderato, allegro molto
Track 9 on SIGCD350 [7'36] Download only

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