Much of my early concert music describes a journey from darkness to light, from uncertainty to affirmation. Although this structural model doesn't demand that optimism be entirely blind, my view of the modern world lends this new work a more acerbic flavour in its exploration of conflict without resolution.
String Quartet no 4 is in one movement of two almost equal halves. It opens by summoning the four players into a conversation that evolves into a 'murmuring' exchange signaling the first signs of dissent. A slow repeated pattern heralds a reflective violin solo that is overtaken by antagonism, but returns unperturbed to close the first half.
The second part opens with angular rhythmic gestures set abruptly against a pensive chorale. The aggression of the rhythmic gestures develops further, eventually recapitulating, in darker mood, all of the earlier material of the work. There is no coalescence, and the chorale closes the work only because the aggression, for the moment, has ceased.
String Quartet No 4 was commissioned for Musica Viva Australia by Geoff and Vicki Ainsworth in honour of Carl Vine's fiftieth birthday, with support from the Ian Potter Music Commissions. The first performance was given by the Takács String Quartet at the Perth Concert Hall, Western Australia, on 22nd November 2004.