Commissioned by the Brodsky Quartet with with financial assistance from the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body
First performance by the Brodsky Quartet, Queensland Music Festival, Powerhouse, Brisbane, 18 July 2013
Andrew Ford: String Quartet No 3
Cradle Song (to the memory of Richard Pollett)
The Brodsky Quartet asked me to write them a new piece after Paul Cassidy heard a recording of my Symphony. Specifically, he asked, ‘How can we get a piece like that?’ So, from the beginning, I thought this would be, like the symphony, a work in one movement. But when I came to write it, the music quickly revealed itself to be in four, very distinct movements – fast, slow, very fast, very slow – though they play continuously.
Since music celebrates the quartet’s fortieth anniversary, and since the players were children when they first played together, the opening has a deliberately naïve feel. Also, for its first few bars, it employs only the second violin and cello, Ian Belton and Jacqueline Thomas being the two remaining founder members of the group. You might say the rest of this first movement is a journey from innocence to experience.
The second movement is dedicated to the memory of the young Australian violinist Richard Pollett, son of my dear friend Patricia Pollett. This piece also exists as a duo for violin and piano.
There follows a movement – ‘Rant’ – which contains some of the angriest music I’ve ever written, followed by a final elegy. This is music that I first composed to wrap around the traditional Northumbrian song, ‘Maa Bonny Lad’ (the second of my Three Northumbrian Songs), and I adapted it for the close of this quartet because the Brodskys came, originally, from the north-east of England. (It was not my intention when writing the piece, but the third and fourth movements might also be heard in the context of Richard’s sudden and premature death.)
String Quartet No 3 was commissioned by the Brodsky Quartet with financial assistance from the Australian Federal Government through the Music Board of the Australia Council for the Arts. It was composed from February to May 2012, the final two movements completed in south-eastern Finland.