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Peter Maxwell Davies

Publisher: Chester Music

Piano Quartet (2008)
Commissioned by the Primrose Piano Quartet with funding from the Scottish Arts Council, Mr and Mrs J A Pye's Charitable Settlement, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the Hope-Scott Trust.
Chester Music Ltd
Works for 2-6 Players
Year Composed
20 Minutes

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Programme Note
Peter Maxwell Davies Piano Quartet (2008)
The Piano Quartet was written in December 2007 for the Primrose Quartet, and is dedicated to Tam McPhail, in memory of his wife, Gunnie Moberg.

Gunnie was Swedish, but settled with Tam and their four sons in Orkney, from which base she became internationally known as an artist and photographer, as well as being a close friend, and an inspiration in my own work.

In this Quartet I have attempted to embrace as many of Gunnie’s character traits and influences as I could, including her very Scandinavian rigour, her Scottish humour, and even her love of the Faroe Islands. It is plainsong based, with an eightfold magic square.

1. Entrance and Jig
2. Slow Air
3. Føroya Kvædi (Lullabye from Faroe)
4. Rebus Runarum
5. Hortus Conclusus
6. Tantum Ergo Sacramentum

The first three movements are played without a break, as are the last two.

(c) Peter Maxwell Davies

Sample Pages

  • Ensemble
    Primrose Piano Quartet
  • 22 APR 2016
    Park Lane Group Young Artists Spring Series (7.30pm)
    St John's Smith Square, London
    Lipatti Piano Quartet
  • 04 NOV 2010
    Cowdray Hall, Aberdeen, UK
    Primrose Piano Quartet
  • 12 NOV 2009
    12:45 Cowdray Hall, Aberdeen, Scotland
    Primrose Piano Quartet

    Other Dates:
    12 November - 19:00 Duss House, Banff, Scotland
    13 November - Newton Dee, Scotland
  • 22 OCT 2009
    King's Place, London
    Gemini Ensemble
  • 19 OCT 2008
    Piano Quartet London Premiere
    King's Place, London
    Primrose Piano Quartet
  • 27 JUL 2008
    Balquidder Summer Music Festival, Balquidder Parish Church, Scotland
    Primrose Piano Quartet

    Other Dates:
    6 March 2009 - Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow, Scotland
  • 26 JUL 2008
    Paxton Festival, Paxton House, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Borders, Scotland
    Primrose Piano Quartet

    Other Dates:
    9 October - St. Andrews Music Club, St. Andrews, Scotland
    11 October - Aran Music Club, Aran, Scotland
  • 13 JUL 2008
    Piano Quartet World Premiere
    Cheltenham International Festival
    Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham
    Primrose Piano Quartet

Through brief, interlinked character pieces, instruments creep, chew or scud through knotty remnants of some secret theme. One section is rigourously solemn, another erupts with rhetorical gestures. A Faroe Island tune is hinted at but the puzzle's key proves to be, as so often with Davies, plainsong with the melody cradled in tonality's arms before the piece fades into sadness and a question mark. Old tricks, then; but the feelings generated stay fresh. When tonal harmony arrives the effect is overwhelming, in a perplexing world we've finally reached home comforts, if only briefly.
Geoff Brown, The Times,01/01/0001
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