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Michael Nyman

Publisher: Chester Music

Three Quartets (1994)
commissioned by the Arion-Edo Foundation for the 10th Tokyo Summer Festival
Chester Music Ltd
Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Year Composed
14 Minutes

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Programme Note
Michael Nyman Three Quartets (1994)


THREE QUARTETS was commissioned by the Arion-Edo Foundation of Japan and re-orchestrated for the Michael Nyman Band.

The three quartets referred to in the title are a string quartet, saxophone quartet and a brass quartet. My original compositional idea was both to view each quartet as a complete unit and to explore a series of colouristic inter-relationships between individual instruments in each quartet. But this pre-compositional idea went by the board during the writing of the piece as the musical material took on a life of its own. 3 Quartets is a multi-section, multi-tempo single-movement work, of which the first two sections are introduced by the string quartet. The first, fanfare-like, is 'crossed' by an irregular scalic figure while the second is based on an arpeggiated 3+3+2+2 chromatic figure which also subsequently found a place in the Carrington film score (where it seemed a perfect expression of the turbulent temperament of the painter Mark Gertler). At the centre of THREE QUARTETS is a soprano saxophone chorale which hints at the closing brass chorale, over which the snaky scales of the opening section heroically re-appear.

© Michael Nyman

  • Ensemble
    Michael Nyman Band
  • Large Ensemble (7 or more players):
  • 21 MAY 2010
    Sydney Conservatorium, Sydney, Australia
    Sydney Conservatorium of Music

    Other Dates:
    14,16 July - Sydney Conservatorium, Sydney, Australia
  • 13 JUN 2009
    Milwakee, WI
    Present Music Ensemble
    Kevin Stalheim, conductor
  • 13 MAY 2009
    Turner Hall, Milwaukee, USA
    Present Music Ensemble
    Kevin Stalheim, conductor
  • 24 MAR 2003
    Concert Hall, Ethical Culture Society, New York
    Eos Orchestra
    U Shrinivas; Jonathan Sheffer, conductor

    Other Dates:
    25 March - Concert Hall, Ethical Culture Society, New York

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