for any four bowed string instruments (2016/18)
ærc is the Old English word for ark, derived from the Latin arca, a chest. Here it denotes an enclosed space, perhaps of refuge or safety, certainly of intimacy.
ærc quartets is derived from my ensemble piece ærc (2016), for a large number of orchestral string instruments. In that work, the players are paired, as in the ark of Noah, entering the figurative space of the work two-by-two and creating a dense polyphonic texture (a giant viol consort) from breath-like bow-strokes, each pair in rhythmic unison, before exiting in sequence.
In ærc quartets only two pairs of instruments are present. The material of the pieces is almost identical to that of ærc, but I have subtracted one piece from the original eight.