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Oppositions

by Anthony Ritchie, for violin, viola, cello and piano, Opus 116

Angular exciting piece for piano quartet.

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Programme Note

Oppositions was composed for The New Zealand Piano Quartet, for inclusion on a CD of the composer's chamber music, released by Kiwi-Pacific Records. It is in one movement, and is based around the idea of opposing forces, whether they be literal or imaginative. In musical terms, the piano is frequently pitted against the strings, while musical themes seem to jostle for supremacy.

After a short and ominous introduction, the strident first theme is played on violin, accompanied by hammered chords. A second theme has all three stringed instruments playing in 'cluster' harmonies. The cello announces a lyrical but turbulent idea, and this is played in counterpoint with the first theme.

The piano is to the fore in a third theme, which is stealthy and marked by sudden outbursts.

These themes are discussed in a middle section that gradually winds down to very soft, thudding chords, before building up to a vigorous return of the opening. In this final section themes are fragmented and tossed around violently, before a brief Coda in which the first theme appears dominant.