Bowmore String Quartet nr. 2

Composed in



string quartet


First performance
May 5, 1995 at deSingel in Antwerp (B) by the DANEL String Quartet.

Lantro Music

Luc on “Bowmore” :

This composition was written in 1995 on commission of deSingel for the Danel String Quartet, who first performed the work on May 4 of that year. The score is dedicated to my friend (and whisky-lover) Godfried Van Heymbeeck. “Bowmore” is my fourth single malt whisky piece (at this moment one has followed : OBAN). “More bow” means what it means (in English) and it was clear for me from the start that this title was very suitable for a string quartet. This work has – for the first time in my oeuvre – an actual link to Scotland, because of the use of melodies which are very probably composed by the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759 – 1796). The work consists of three movements. The first begins quite nervously with a solo for the viola (the viola part remains the most important one in the whole piece), accompanied by the others playing very softly in harmonics “Afton Water” by Burns. After some time the first violin goes along with the viola in the same rhythm. The others join in one by one (remaining with Burns before) and they all play in a rhythmic unison. Towards the end the “modulations” are if it were conducted by the melody of the Burns-song. The viola ends alone with the opening notes. The second movement is extremely calm and quiet, everything evolves very slowly. In this part the viola quotes two times “Then Guidwife count the lawin” by Burns. Here and there are more or less aleatoric fragments of which the notes refer to the viola part. The last movement is a kind of hommage to two aesthetically totally opposed collegues whose music I very much appreciate : Steve Reich and Pierre Boulez. On one hand there is a motoric/repetitive element that desintegrates a little towards the end and on the other hand a quite hectic arco-pizzicato change which by the way also refers to the first movement. Two tunes by Burns are integrated here : first “Highland laddie” and subsequently “I’ll ay ca’in by yon town”. Just before the end the two violinists go their own way (as well in the proper as in the figurative sense : then they perform the two Burns-tunes in an aleatoric version) and the piece ends with a slightly different form of the opening measure, again played by the viola solo. So everything stops as it begun…

Luc Brewaeys