image: David Batchelor
'in memory of Oliver Knussen'
The eleventh in a planned series of twelve string quartets, Disparition (written in memory of Oliver Knussen) is an intensely focused single movement work of just over eighteen minutes. A striking unison monody in the opening, fragmented by moments of silence, sets the quartet off on a chain of short paragraphs made up of splintered melodic lines as the music drifts from swelling tutti chords to solo lines, most notably for cello followed by violin two thirds of the way through. Juxtaposition of dynamics, arco and pizzicato, the recurrence of fifths, fluttering textures, ascending lines rising up through the quartet, moments of ornamentation and Woolrich’s trademark ‘ticking’ figures are all here. The opening melody twists and turns it’s way through the piece stopping and starting as it constantly re-assesses itself. What’s most striking though is that the sense of loss in the music is conveyed by what isn’t said rather than what we hear.