Peter Farnbank, Composer .


String Quartet No 1 - technical notes

This is a 4-movement integrated work, ie subsequent movements develop on themes created in preceding movements. Hence the first movement is basically germinal. It is a "multitonal" work, such that the composer used a wide range of tonal possibilities with relative unrestricted freedom, eg modes, synthetic scale/harmony structures, unrestricted key relations, complex rthymic structures etc, quartal harmony, polytonality, aharmonic pentatonicism, polyharmony, pandiatonicism etc etc, in brief all the resources available to composing within a tonal architecture.

 Movement I

The movement in in a sonata form, but with two recapitualtion-development sections. It starts with a flowing principal theme A1, passing from F through B to C majors . Theme A2 then starts on cello. This has a distinct rhythm, and is echoed by the upper strings till a climax is reached. Here a vigorous semiquaver theme (A3) is played out in unison until a short bridege passage is reached. The second subject (B) then begins on Violin 2, and is harmonsied quartally to an accompaniment which hints at the initial rthythmic figure of A3. A restatement of A1 forms the bridge to Development 1. [to be continued]

Movement II - "Limping Waltz"

Marked "Sempres con umore", the movement is in a rondo form (A1, B2, A2, C, A3, B2).  It starts in 7/8 time with Theme A on V1. However, 7/8 sibdivides from the initial 3+2+2 into various other subdivisinoal forms, and is interjected with other transient time-signatures, eg 9/8, 8/8 etc.

Theme B then starts. A pentatonic theme, it is a transformation of Theme A3 of Movement I. The melody disharmonises from its accompaniment, but concords at cadence points.

Principal theme then returns (A2) , but in shortened form, leading to Theme C.

Theme C is marked "molto doloroso" suggesting biting pain which causes the limp in the waltz, and at various entries of V1 and V2, "incisive" is marked in the music. Polytomality is featured here (g minor and d major/minor). The themes is resolved by a reference to Theme A3 Mv I, in imitation between lower and higher strings in octave and ends in a quiet arpeggio in C and E majors.

A short bridge leads back to A in full (A3), but with slightly different key centres. Theme B2 then follows as the coda, with a humorous "pp" final phrase, suggesting "hiding in embarrassment".

Movement III - Nocturne"

This is principally built on Theme B1 of Mvt I and is in a borad ternary form (A1, B, A2, coda) Theme B is derived from Theme A of Mvt II.

Movement IV

This is in a sonata-rondo form (A1, B1, A2, C, A3, B2, A4, A5), and begins with a bold restatement of part of the rhythmic figure of Theme A2 of Mvt I as an Introduction. [to be continued]

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