• Giles Swayne
  • String Quartet No 1 (1971)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Written for the Sartori String Quartet

Winner of the GLAA Young Composer's Prize 1972

  • String Quartet
  • 16 min

Programme Note

Giles Swayne: String Quartet 1 (op 8)

My first quartet was written during the summer of 1971, just after I finished at the RAM. It was first performed by the Sartori Quartet (led by Cristoforo Rolando) at the Bromsgrove Festival in the following April.

The piece is in one continuous movement, and consists of twenty variations on the three quiet, widely spaced chords which are heard at the opening. These variations are closely linked, and begin to overlap towards the end - where, at the climax of the piece, the ensemble breaks up altogether, and the four instruments play independently for a while.

From this point onwards the tension gradually unwinds, and the piece ends slowly and quietly with a high, ghostly chorale and a recapitulation of the three thematic chords.