Ian Davis - String Quartet no.1, E major
I. Allegro con spirito e dolce [see homepage for intro]

The first movement explained and analysed:

The 'idea' of writing a string quartet came out of several notions that came to me while listening to Haydn's opus 33 quartets. It was all about flow - a perceived freedom of movement in melody (simple but engaging), part-writing (a playful interplay between parts), tonality (the B minor quartet begins in D major, for example) and pacing (they are brisk and never outstay their welcome. I have never found a quartet that does all this so well, not in later Haydn works or those more celebrated by his contemporaries. I liked it and it felt right, so I walked off, hummed the most ridiculously (to me almost obscenely) happy and simple tune (the opening bars) and let things unwind.

Once the main theme (from bar 5) was composed I followed it up with a more lyrical second theme which seemed right but felt wrong - which as it happens reflected what I needed in accentuating the gruesome power of the C-natural that keeps the primary theme unstable - and after an elaboration of it and a repeat of the whole section I had my material ready. Composing the remainder of the movement was like writing a series of variations over and over, each modulating to a different key, until it somehow arrived back at square one. It was nice not to be in control for once, and although the primary theme is everywhere in various forms. With the recapitulation in E major I indulged in my own view of sonata form - never ever ever boringly repeat everything from the beginning. Instead I keep playing with the primary theme, and the secondary theme reappears in a ludicrously jaunty fashion at bar 157... and upsets the flow all over again before E major (and rhythm) gradually take back control and the intro theme gets a sneaky round-off look-in. Those last two bars, incidentally, sum up the main tonal resting points of the movement - E major, C major, a dodgy A-flat major and back to an uncertain E.

Scroll down for next movement.











Ian Davis - String Quartet no.1, E major
II. Andante [see homepage for intro]

Download the full size sheets of Mvt II. (.zip=362k)

Ian Davis - String Quartet no.1, E major
III. Rondo, allegro ma non troppo [see homepage for intro]

Download the full size sheets of Mvt III. (.zip=436k)