for string quartet (2018)
to Quatuor Bozzini
f.p. Quatuor Bozzini, Musicon, Durham, 20 November 2018
Winner, Ivors Academy Composer Awards 2019, Small Chamber category
Leafleoht (the title means ‘leaf-light’ in Anglo-Saxon) arose from a memory-image of wind in the leaves of a hedge near the sea, the intricate and supple motions of the leaves, and bright (morning) sunlight refracting through the plant and reflecting off the leaf surfaces. This image is the focus of the first part of the piece; the second part is more serene and still (perhaps airier, or more concerned with the light alone) and the last is an extremely soft trembling, as of grass. The musical materials are elemental: different lengths and types of bowstroke creating different rhythmic lines and textures; Just Intonation harmony founded on the open strings of the instruments; whistling and murmured speech alongside the playing. As with other recent pieces I am interested in our relationship to what we call the natural world, specifically our embeddedness or indwelling within it. Each part is a single image; as the critic Adrian Searle wrote about an exhibition of Bridget Riley (quoted in the spoken text of the third part), the music attempts ‘just to be here, in this light’.