String Quartet No.4 was written for the Camilli Quartet who gave the first performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, April 1995. It is dedicated to the memory of Nyman's composition teacher, Alan Bush.
This quartet is a narrative made up of a chain of twelve complete but often cross-related movements, each quite simple in design. For instance, the Scottish melody first heard in the second half of I is hinted at in the 2nd violin/viola in the second fast section of II and is directly quoted again during III and XII. The theme of the fast section of IV is taken up again in VIII; IX reverts to the mood of the opening of I, while the rising scale/syncopated themes of II, IX and the bass of X and XII are related. X also reintroduces the slow harmonics theme from VII. XII is (apparently) cast in the form of a baroque French rondeau. The main theme of VI was plucked out of the Quartet and used in my score for Christopher Hampton’s film Carrington.
Duration 40 minutes. A set of parts is available for sale.