Piano Quartet No. 1 In C Minor
Completed in 2010, and revised a year later, the quartet spans four untitled movements, with the core of the opening and closing movements being in sonata form. The slow second movement is highly chromatic and contrapuntal, at times displaying a sense of unease. The scherzo-like third movement is lighter, with a calm middle section that proceeds almost as a lullaby. The work’s episodically recurring opening theme is realized as a climactic countermelody in the fugal coda of the final movement.
Piano Quartet No. 2
Completed in 2018, the quartet contains two parts, each introduced by the same elegiac theme played by a solo string instrumentalist. Part I is characterized by sustained pitches passed between the strings against a metronomic piano accompaniment (Larghetto). These give way to descending note flurries and syncopated chorale fragments (Andante), temporarily interrupted by a quieter, contemplative section (Lento). Following a brief introduction, Part II starts with a wistful, organum-like motif (Largo) that develops gradually before flowering in a more sunny restatement. This is replaced by an unsettled, darker section of great rhythmic drive (Ritmico, alla breve), broken by a pensive melody introduced by the cello (Largo). Increasingly agitated runs and repeated notes over an extended pedal point lead to an excited return of the section’s opening theme on the piano (marked ‘ecstatic and colossal’ in the score), accompanied by furious string arpeggios (Ritmico, alla breve). The pensive melody returns (Largo) but is ultimately swept away by a rhythmic string and piano flourish (Ritmico, alla breve).
— Andrew Anderson
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