This string quartet was written in 2003, just after moving into a house on Shelter Island, New York, which has since become a summer retreat. This first summer, though, was fraught with unexpected bereavements, strange revelations and complications – and the atmosphere and climate was tense and thundery. The first movement opens in wistful calm, that is soon shattered by a bewildering sequence of speeds and moods. The slow movement is static, and sunlit, though sudden turbulence threads through it like unexpected currents, and a funeral march emerges, mixed with a tiny quotation from a Berlioz song, La mort d’Ophelie (The death of Ophelia). The finale was inspired by a lengthy nocturnal downpour that dripped and drummed fascinating rhythms on our roof.
© Julian Grant 2003
First performed 8 April 2010 by the Beijing New Music String Quartet, Yishu 8, Beijing