Scamander

first performances:

Callino Quartet

Homerton College, Cambridge

27 April 2019

Barber Institute, Birmingham

10 May 2019

programme note:

This is the fourth in a series of pieces for string quartet collectively known as A Book of
Inventions
. Altogether, there will be ten pieces; to date seven of these have been completed. In
Greek mythology, Scamander was a river-god, son of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys, and the
personification of the eponymous river that flowed across the plain of Troy. This mythological
background suggests the idea of a river journey, whose bends enable views of the same landscape
features from different perspectives. The musical flow explores a number of rhythmic and melodic
figures, and generates considerable tension in its contrast of fast and slow motion. After a brief slow
introduction, quicker material bubbles into action, and as the rhythmic activity tightens, some
slower melodic lines begin to penetrate the weave until a point of maximum tension is reached
about two-thirds of the way through the 14-minute span. But it’s the slow music that wins out
finally, and the musical river spreads out into a delta-like coda before reaching the open sea.

(John Hopkins)