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In 1997 I wrote Postcards for the Urban Trio, and the performances of these introduced me to Claudia Price and her very fine ‘cello playing, which then became a foundation to the Jade Quartet.
For some years I have been promising a string quartet, but as with all composition needed to find both an occasion and characteristic sounds to explore. When the Jade Quartet asked me for a piece for this year’s Pah programmes I thought it was appropriate to include a tribute to Claudia. There are memories throughout the piece, which at the same time looks to the future with optimism. In the second movement there are fragmentary hints of Haydn’s beautiful setting from the Seven Last Words of Christ ‘In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum’ (Into your hands I entrust my spirit), and in the final movement I have used a short portion from the Scherzo of Beethoven’s String Quartet Op 135 as a kind of ritornello within increasingly fragmented variations.
II. In manus tuas, Domine
III. Dancing on Sacred Ground
24 Aug 2014: Performed by The Jade Quartet at the Pah Homestead, in Hillsborough, Auckland.