String Quartet No. 4 — The Night (2011)

Owen Underhill

string quartet

Commission: Quatuor Bozzini

Program Notes

The fourth string quartet is in some ways an extension of the third, with perhaps a more direct through-line and an even more spare approach to the presentation of melodies, harmonies and ideas. The title is derived from a poem of the same name by the seventeenth century mystical poet Henry Vaughan. The last stanza begins:

There is in God (some say) A deep, but dazzling darkness

The striking contrast and integration of darkness and dazzling light in the poem helped guide the overall concept of alternating slow and fast sections. Even though the music is sectional, I thought of the work as unbroken. As each part concludes, a door opens and the next experience is revealed. String Quartet #4 — The Night is dedicated to my son Adrian and daughter Sophia.