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All the remaining movements are shorter, ‘Morning Dew’ being emphatically the scherzo, mostly pizzicato. Though Adès in this work maintains the same time signatures in all parts, the four instruments are on their own tracks through stretches of this movement, now and then arriving at the same spot with some surprise, but then happily joining in a bit of ostinato. The second time this happens, the first violin goes off into bowed playing, followed by the others, still otherwise independent, but they cannot get the old music out of their fingers.
‘Days’ is a study in monotony, but within a context, of course, of constant change. The second violin begins by repeating middle C sharp to a repeating rhythm of short-short-long, short-long, short-long, short-long (thirteen beats, therefore), placed against a shifting frame of time signatures, the other instruments playing in harmony mostly below, until they are drawn into the second violin’s rhythm and disturb its equanimity. After this it is scalewise motion that comes forward as an alternative, until, startlingly, everyone arrives at fortissimo chords on the nagging thirteen-beat rhythm. Then quiet again, the music unwinds.
Finally, ‘The Twenty-Fifth Hour’, in a time outside time, restores high-treble lustre and dance, the time signature of 25/16 being divided into groups of 8+3+8+6. Now one may feel not only that the violin-harmonic image from the first movement is back but that it has grown into a bright melody, spinning in changing harmonic currents, resolving at times into scales, speeding up, reaching into a passage of magnificent triadic harmony, slowing down again and coming to stillness on a D major chord so beautiful it just has to be repeated.
from notes by Paul Griffiths © 2015