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Mandala 4 : string quartet

by David Lumsdaine (1983)

Mandala 4


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Mandala 4 : for string quartet / David Lumsdaine.

Library shelf no. 785.714/LUM 1 [Not for loan]

Work Overview

Though it doesn’t sound like the music of Messiaen, Mandala 4 is closer than any other work of mine to his aesthetic. Every musical idea derives from the birdsongs, in particular those of Spirey Creek as I heard them one dawn in the spring of 1984. There is no attempt to imitate the original songs, but their gestures, contours and harmony are the heart and the taking off point for all the music.

The work begins with an introduction in the spirit of a formal dance. The dance is interrupted by a gong (played by the violist) which leads into the main body of the work, an extended viola solo based on the dawn song of a Pied Butcherbird. A mosaic of counterpoints (a kind of anti-development) derived from the song of the Butcherbird’s neighbours grows out of the heterophonic accompaniment. After a reprise of the opening dance, which has been re-shaped by the songs of Currawongs and Little Friarbirds, the essential harmony of the piece gradually dissolves nad the sound of the gong leads to a gentle close, a closure without cadence. 

Work Details

Year: 1983

Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello.

Duration: 17 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by BBC.

First performance: by Arditti Quartet — Sep 91. London, UK


Program note: David Lumsdaine's "Mandala 4"
by David Lumsdaine
Source: the score of this work

Resonate article: David Lumsdaineā€™s soundscapes by Michael Hooper

Article: The country of my childhood : reflections on David Lumsdaine's music / by Michael Hall.


Performances of this work

Sep 91: London, UK. Featuring Arditti Quartet.

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