For Uy U T’an, Paredes imagined a “crazy and hyperactive first violin” (it’s hard to imagine that there isn’t a portrait of Irvine Arditti involved here), contrasting with “an introverted and sometimes clumsy second violin”, a “relaxed and expressive viola”, and “an absent minded cello”. Most instruments have their own ‘character-defining’ material: for the first violin, it’s mainly a matter of virtuosic figurations, twirling and swirling across all registers, while for the second violin, it’s more stolid pizzicato figures, and for the viola, extended legato lines. But as for the cello, how does one depict absent-mindedness? Not so much through particular shapes and motives as through the disinclination to stay involved with what everyone else is doing, or perhaps to engage with an idea, tentatively, when everyone else has left it behind.
The four main sections of the quartet, which follow continuously from one another, reflect not so much the traditional four-movement quartet structure, as the four ‘characters’, each of whom has an opportunity to try to put their own stamp on the discourse.
– Richard Toop