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String Quartet No 3: In Time

by Anthony Ritchie, for string quartet, Opus 221

This work is in five movements and is designed for professional players.

The work is a meditation on the passing of time, and explores the temporal nature of our existence; at the same time, it celebrates the joy of creating and performing music in time with each other.

1. First Dance
2. Heartbeat
3. Perpetual Motion
4. Funeral March
5. Last Dance

Two dance movements frame the work, and share similar thematic material. First Dance is quirky and changeable, and features some jazzy harmonies, while Last Dance has a clockwork character, relentlessly building patterns over an ostinato.
Heartbeat was inspired by the human pulse, interrupted on occasions by an ectopic beat (or arrhythmia). Lyrical and motivic melodies are developed over steady plucked rhythms. The pulse quickens in the middle section, before a return to the beginning, and a gradual winding down of the heartbeat towards the end.
Perpetual Motion imagines a pendulum swinging and provides an uneasy meditation on the briefness of our lives.
Funeral March was initially inspired by the images of the procession at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II (2022), and the various famous funeral marches by Beethoven, Chopin and others that were played. The idea of moving in time to music as a way of grieving or acknowledging the dead seems old-fashioned, but the composer experienced its power following the Christchurch massacre in 2019; a procession of university staff and students was arranged in honour of the dead, and the experience was extraordinarily strong, emotionally. The movement in the quartet used some of the characteristic tropes from older funeral marches, and varies in mood from sombre to defiant.

In Time was written for The Jade Quartet in Auckland: Miranda Adams and Liu-Yi Retallick on violins, Robert Ashworth on viola and James Yoo on cello. It was premiered at Ferndale House in Auckland, June 24, 2023.

Dedicated to Diana Gash

Buy the right for your quartet to download and print a pdf including score and all parts for NZ$50.00

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