The Full Score for Peter Maxwell Davies’ fourth in a series of ten string quartets commissioned by the Naxos Recording company, first performed by the Maggini Quartet on 20th August 2004 at the Chapel of the Royal Palace,Oslo,Norway, as part of the Olso Chamber Music Festival.
The fourth Naxos quartet was written in January and February of 2004, with the intention of producing something lighter and much less fierce thanitspredecessor, an unpremeditated and spontaneous reaction to the illegal invasion of Iraq.
I returned to the well-known Brueghel picture of children's games (1560, now in Vienna), which had been the inspiration for mysixthStrathclyde Concerto, for flute and orchestra. These illustrations liberated my musical imagination, but I feel it would limit the listener's perception to be too specific about which game relates to exactly which section ofthework. Suffice it to say that there is vigorous play - leap-frog, bind the devil with a cord, truss, wrestling - alongside quieter pastimes - masks, guess whom I shall choose, courting, odds and evens. The singlemovementjuxtaposes these activities as abruptly and intimately as they occur in Brueghel. Rather as the eye is taken into different perspectives and proportions of scale within the picture, taking liberties which would never bepresentin, for instance, Brunelleschi architectural drawings, so here, with a constant sequence of transformation processes, I have distorted the neat, precise implications of modal progression, expressed in the unison openingphrase(from F to B through A sharp/B flat), so that the ear is led, en route, into the sound equivalents of strange passageways and closed rooms: sicut exposition ludus.
As work on the quartet progressed I became awarethat Iwas reading into, and behind the games, adult motives and implications, concerning aggression and war, with their consequences. It was impossible to escape into innocent childhood fantasy.
The nature of the F to B