Aphrodite's Rock: 2001

String Quartet

The opportunity to write a string quartet for the Chilingirians was on the table for a long time. After several false starts, the present piece was begun in Crete in the summer of 2000. An earlier work – (Undulations and other movements) – relates in part to the physical landscape of the Charente and I began Aphrodite’s Rock with a similar starting point, but this time also trying to capture some of the extraordinary sounds of the village where we were staying. Coming to Cyprus in the summer of 2001, there was some dramatic coastal scenery to inspire shapes and patterns to add to the earlier ideas, especially the gentle swirling waters around Aphrodite’s Rock and the ever-present evening chorus of insects and birds. The single movement which has emerged should not really be seen as a series of musical picture postcards, for in some cases the musical imagery has travelled far from the original sketches. The figurative has largely been overtaken by the abstract, but as with much abstract painting the viewer/listener may enjoy the game of making connections !

As in my String Trio, composed for members of this quartet in the mid 1980s, chords built on fifths play a significant part at the opening, and re-appear at various points. This broadly homophonic material is contrasted with more linear, contrapuntal material as the work shifts from its brisk start to a slow centre. A slightly disguised re-appearance of the opening prepares the way for a brisk final section, which ties up a few loose ends en route and finally resolves the dissonant overlapped fifths of the opening bars in favour of a more concordant version of the same material.