Highland composer Alasdair Nicolson's String Quartet No. 3 (Slanting Rain) was premiered by The Edinburgh Quartet on Thu 12th November 2015 in the University Concert Hall.  The piece, consisting of 6 short movements, draws on the work of Portugese author Ferdinand Pessoa and the Gaelic song tradition and is dedicated to the composer's mother.

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Listen to… the Slanting Rain premiere

Programme note
Alasdair Nicolson (b. 1961) - String Quartet No. 3 (Slanting Rain)

   1. a false moon shines
   2. the shadow ends without having been
   3. waving trees, rising sea, eerie stillness
   4. impossibly distant tree-lined paths
   5. I come to the window to see who’s singing
   6. into an abyss made of time

Like my previous quartet, some of the inspiration for this work came from a favourite writer’s poetry, namely the Portuguese author Ferdinand Pessoa; the title of the quartet is also the title of a collection of Pessoa’s poetry. The epigrammatic titles that appear for each short movement are lines from within this writer’s poetry and, though not intended to be programmatic, are evocations of mood and hints of atmospheres without a particular narrative thread.

In constructing this quartet I was drawn to another source common to my music, that of the Gaelic song tradition and in particular here the old song
O, ‘s tu, ‘s gura tu th’air m’aire (Oh, it’s you who are on my mind) – a song of loss whose sentiments are close to those of the Pessoa. Much of the musical material for the work is taken from this Gaelic melody and on a few occasions it comes to the surface with its rising upturned triadic shape.

The quartet is dedicated to the memory of my mother who passed away in late 2014 and who was no stranger to slanting rain.

Alasdair Nicolson 2015

Performer biographies & full details of the Slanting Rain premiere can be found in the McEwen concert programme 2015