Commissioned by the Flinders Quartet with support from David and Kaye Birks, Julian Burnside AO QC and Ben Quilty
First performance by the Flinders Quartet, Ballarat, Victoria, 28 October 2018
String Quartet No 6 (2014-17)
2. Scherzo perpetuo
4. Sunrise with Wedding Dresses
The majority of this piece was commissioned by David and Kaye Birks and Julian Burnside AO QC, and composed late in 2017. The second and fourth movements, however, were completed earlier.
‘Scherzo perpetuo’ was written to accompany a 1907 silent film, Le sculpteur express in a Flinders Quartet program in 2015; ‘Sunrise with Wedding Dresses’ was commissioned, the following year, by Ben Quilty, as the soundtrack to his short film about a Syrian designer and dress maker living in a Lebanese refugee camp.
It was while writing the scherzo that I first began to think it might be part of a larger piece, and so when Ben asked for some film music, I opportunistically suggested I should write it, too, for the Flinders Quartet. In the context of their respective films, I like to think these two movements work rather well, but in the context of my sixth string quartet I hope you’ll hear only ‘pure’ music.
I should, however, own up to a piece of borrowing in ‘Sunrise with Wedding Dresses’, namely the Appalachian song, ‘Wedding Dress’: ‘Hey my little doney gal / Don’t you guess / Better be making your wedding dress . . .’.
The first movement of the quartet is entirely pizzicato and leads without a break into the scherzo; the ‘Lamentoso’, which is the longest movement, likewise leads into ‘Sunrise’.
The whole piece lasts about 25 minutes.
© A. F.