String Quartet no. 6, 'The Terror Run' (2010), 92
This quartet was commissioned by the BBC, written for and dedicated to the Meta4 Quartet to be premiered at the Proms concerts 2010 in London.
My former experience in writing string quartets has made me used to the idea that a piece of mine in this genre lasts close to half an hour and consists of several movements with different characters. This time the commission clearly stated a duration of 12 minutes, and this naturally brought about lots of thinking and orientating. Eventually, I luckily found out that I actually can alter my basic “string quartet philosophy”, so that such a short piece became an existing option. In the music itself, there is nothing very much to explain. The quartet is for the most part quite lively, flowing music in fast tempi. In the very beginning, there is something haunting in the atmosphere, but soon joyful, for the most part delicately light, at times maybe also “dance-like” characters take over. But, in terms of dramaturgy, the music has a tendency to grow more weighty and harsh, and these quasi-violent elements gradually threaten the sunny, unproblematic flow. Closer to the end, we come to a point where nothing is easy anymore. This brings about a slow section of quite different nature, and after that the former hilarious swing tries to make a comeback – but does not really succeed. The run goes on, but the overtones are now more shadowy and the mood on the scary side.
The subtitle comes from the novel The Camomile Lawn (1984) by Mary Wesley, of which Ken Taylor made a wonderful TV series adaptation for Channel 4 (1992), where a marvellous casting of great actors supports the colourful, beautiful and delightful story. In this novel, young Sophie (gorgeously played by the 10-year-old Rebecca Hall) has eagerly waited for her older cousins to arrive to her aunt’s house at the Cornish seaside. There is a family tradition to run a race along the steep cliff path at full moon, and this is especially what Sophie anxiously wants to take place. Against a fantastically beautiful view, they decide to have a practice run at daylight, during which Sophie meets the local coastguard and is badly frightened by this. Needless to say, I am not actually telling this story by the music. The term “terror run” just happens to coincide with the flow or “run” of my music in this piece – and it is a captivating title!