Commissioned by the Arion-Edo Foundation for the 10th Tokyo Summer Festival

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  • 14 min

Programme Note



THREE QUARTETS was commissioned by the Arion-Edo Foundation of Japan and re-orchestrated for the Michael Nyman Band.

The three quartets referred to in the title are a string quartet, saxophone quartet and a brass quartet. My original compositional idea was both to view each quartet as a complete unit and to explore a series of colouristic inter-relationships between individual instruments in each quartet. But this pre-compositional idea went by the board during the writing of the piece as the musical material took on a life of its own. 3 Quartets is a multi-section, multi-tempo single-movement work, of which the first two sections are introduced by the string quartet. The first, fanfare-like, is 'crossed' by an irregular scalic figure while the second is based on an arpeggiated 3+3+2+2 chromatic figure which also subsequently found a place in the Carrington film score (where it seemed a perfect expression of the turbulent temperament of the painter Mark Gertler). At the centre of THREE QUARTETS is a soprano saxophone chorale which hints at the closing brass chorale, over which the snaky scales of the opening section heroically re-appear.

© Michael Nyman


3 Quartets F.2 Violinen,Viola U.
Nyman: 3 Quartets


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