Additional Information

Creative Scotland-funded Commission


Premiere Performance
The Edinburgh Quartet
City Halls, Glasgow 26th May 2015

This Recording
The Edinburgh Quartet
The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh 27th May 2015

Violins: Tristan Gurney | Gordon Bragg
Viola: Fiona Winning
Cello: Mark Bailey

Silent Shores is my second string quartet, and was commissioned by the Edinburgh Quartet with funding from Creative Scotland.
I have always had a real affinity with the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde. I first visited when I was just six weeks old, and have returned at least two or three times a year ever since. I am always struck by its immense beauty, staggering ruggedness, untamed nature and wild, unpredictable weather, and I have spent countless hours in its many mountains and glens.

In early 2015 I made a very foggy crossing on the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick (the main town on Arran), with the fog only lifting towards the end of the voyage to reveal Arran shrouded in thick, heavy mist. There was a real atmosphere of stillness: no wind, no calling of the birds, and barely any waves; their absence leaving me to simply absorb the island in its half-visible, blurred image.

Silent Shores loosely recounts this early-morning image of Arran. The work is constructed of three adjoined, yet distinct, sections. The first section features a slow-burning, tense violin melody that is continuously charged with energy from the accompanying ensemble. This melodic material is deliberately slow to expose itself, leading into a capricious, volatile middle episode with scurrying passages and angular, jagged interruptions. The energy is quickly dissipated, and fragments of the earlier melodic material are revisited in the final section. However, the material found here is hazier, disfigured, or damaged in many respects. T.H.





Silent Shores