RTC-48: 1975 String Quartet No. 3

Commission: Canada Council
Length: 18 min.
Premiere: 1976, Purcell String Qt., Wigmore Hall, London
Other:

  • 1977-02-06, Purcell String Qt., Eva Clare Hall, U of Manitoba
  • 2005-11-21, WSO String Qt., Groundswell Concerts, Winnipeg

Publication: CMC
Recording:

  • Purcell String Qt., Radio Canada Anthology of Canadian Music, ACM 15
  • Purcell String Qt., Radio Canada International 476
  • New CD: CBC recording from 2005-11-21

It is in two movements – Chaconne and Theme and Variations. The music is based on Henry Purcell’s song “Fairest Isle” from King Arthur and a 12-tone row. The shape of the piece is that of an arch, with the music increasing and decreasing in speed and intensity, while the centre peak is formed by the playing of the complete Purcell melody in its original 17th century setting.

The first performance was given by the Purcell String Quartet at Wigmore Hall in London, England in 1976. The Canadian premiere was given by the ensemble at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg on 6 February 1977.