String Quartet No. 4


SPACES IN A SPACE – The Bingham String Quartet

The first idea for this QUARTET came from a, not entirely serious, remark made by the potter Emmanuel Cooper at a private showing of his work: “You should write a piece of music to go with an exhibition of pots”.  When I embarked upon writing my fourth String Quartet, I decided to take up the idea. I was interested – as so often in my chamber music writing – in combining the purely musical and the programmatic.  Emmanuel took a great interest in this work, and came and spoke at a few performances, including the premiere.

The first Movement presents the clay on the wheel, gradually being formed into shape and, at the right magical moment, being raised to its full stature.

The second Movement, which follows without pause, is a scherzo.  It takes place in the heat of the furnace where the different musical motifs are drawn together and fixed.  The slow trio is an expression of the pot as it will be.

The third Movement presents the pots one by one, a family of related but subtly different objects, first as simple earthenware, and then glazed and coloured.  gradually the attention is drawn to the spaces inside each pot and between the different pots.  The Quartet ends with this space.

1  The Secret in the Clay / 2  Confirmed by Fire 16’35”

3  Spaces in a Space 13’04”

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