It might be of interest for some to note, that a gap of only six months separates the writing of my second and third quartets (1979), but a 33 year interval stands between the third and the present piece, String Quartet No. 4.
Which is in five movements and is about nothing but itself. The first movement "Adagio - Presto alla breve - Adagio" is an overture of sorts, lifting the lid, as it were, on the odd bit of what happens later on in the other movements.
A portal into: The second movement "Vivo scherzando", which is just that: a short (2 minutes only) fast and jocular piece leading up to the next movement: "Adagio sognante", a slow and hushed dream-world, paving the way for the pièce de resistance of the entire quartet: "Presto alla breve", a ferociously fast tour de force for the four players, who, with that one under their belts, can lean back a little (but only a little) and put the whole thing gently to bed in the fifth and final movement: a simple "Adagio".
Off the record: my first string quartet (1972) has been withdrawn and is no more, a fact that renders the numbering of the subsequent quartets a matter of personal conviction.
Poul Ruders, November 2012