The three movements of the quartet may be perceived as three different expressions of an unstable core: an inherent unrest leads to frequent changes of direction. The first movement is full of dramatic contrasts; it is followed by a second movement, whose basic mood of meditative rest is challenged by occasional centrifugal utbursts, while the third movement takes the inherent conflicts to a higher level, contrasting material of introspective lyricism with excessively pathetic moods.
The final “way out” is a retrograde one, (back) “into the source”: through a constant accelerando-diminuendo the piece disappears into a vanishing point. The “into the source” of the title may be visualized as a reversed fountain-action: the broad fan-like spread of the first movement, a more coherent-solid second movement, and finally - in the third movement - a return-run, ever more vehemently, like a suction into the spring itself …
The musical motifs are varied; there are traffic-situations (which I heard!) with stomping and machine-like rhythms in different, but simultaneous tempi, and there are more abstract upwards and downwards half-tone-scales, with changing accents, creating glimpses of melodies.
INTO THE SOURCE, String Quartet No. 9, was composed on a double-commission from the Orion Quartet and the Vertavo Quartet. The premiere performances took places in Santa Fé in 2002 and in Oslo in 2003.