Co-commissioned by Wigmore Hall with the support of André Hoffmann, President of the Fondation Hoffmann, a Swiss grant making foundation and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center funded by a generous grant from Linda and Stuart Nelson in honour of Wu Han and David Finckel.
II- AVIARY (PARROT MUSIC BOX)
III- DESERTED PERCH
IV- FORGOTTON GAME
V- TOWARD THE BLUE PENINSULA (AFTER EMILY DICKINSON)
Cast in five movements, each takes its starting point and character from the works, listed above, by Joseph Cornell. What interests me about his assemblage boxes is his ability to create miniature worlds. They are immediate and alluring but also rich in associations.
Each movement treats the ensemble in a different way, exploring the range of possibilities inherent in the combination. In the first movement, two are pitched against one but the groupings are continually shifting. There is a reference to Ravel’s Oiseaux Triste in the melody that is spun through it and also in the rapid figuration throughout.
Marked ‘mechanical’, the second movement features a pizzicato cello line in ever changing patterns set against repeated gestures in violin and viola. Gradually everyone plays the pizzicato line with the repeated gestures skittered between violin and viola, this material eventually taking centre stage. The pizzicato becomes the repeated material before shortening at each statement until we are left with just one note.
In the third movement, a solo viola line is punctuated by flurried bursts of activity in the violin and cello. Eventually everyone comes together in a unison line before the viola comes to the fore again.
In FORGOTTEN GAME, an exchange of quiet, ephemeral harmonics is interrupted by fast, violent outbursts. The juxtaposition becomes more rapid and tense before its release.
The final movement opens with a chorale and is interspersed with fleeting, intertwined passages. The two things become one leading to an impassioned climax. A very quiet, slow coda reflects on what has come before.
Programme note ©2015 Helen Grime
- Heath Quartet record Helen Grime’s second quartet
- 10th April 2023
- The debut recording of String Quartet No. 2 by Helen Grime featuring the Heath Quartet is now available on the NMC label