III Allegro assai
V Molto sostenuto
The first movement is dark and intense, but ends with a hushed ‘chorale’. The second movement is an ostinato, with continuous machine-like motion. The third is a big scherzo, whirling and muted throughout; there are three ‘trios’, in which the principal role is taken successively by the first violin, second violin and viola, and each is shorter than the last – in the same way that the four sections of the scherzo are progressively elided. The fourth movement is a rather grotesque waltz, preceded and interrupted by a parody version of the first movement’s chorale. The chorale too pervades the finale, fragments of it reappearing at intervals throughout the slow, measured and spare textures, and eventually ending the whole work.
This Third Quartet lasts nearly 35 minutes. It was written as a gift for my friends, the Brindisi String Quartet, as thanks for the many fine performances they have given of my Second.