For string quartet, double bass, piano, percussion
First performance Mr McFall’s Chamber, East Neuk Festival June 2007


May 1, 2007

Gavin’s Notes:

The Church closest to the Sea (2007)

For string quartet, double bass, piano, percussion

Although ostensibly for a quite conventional instrumentation, the piece reflects something of the unusual character of the ensemble that commissioned it  – Mr McFall’s Chamber – and its eclectic approach to repertoire. It features the solo pizzicato double bass, employing the subtly free rhythmic approach of the jazz ballad, with cameo solo parts for the other string instruments. The impetus to write the piece came from a chance meeting with bassist Rick Standley on a flight from Valencia in 2002, which alerted me to the group’s ethos. As bassists we found that we had a great deal in common, although we have diametrically opposed views on the electric bass – an instrument which he plays beautifully, but which I loathe.

The title of the work relates to the ensemble’s Scottish origins, and to the location of the work’s premiere in the East Neuk (the ancient name for Fife). Many years ago I attended a friend’s wedding, conducted in English and Scots, in the very lovely 750-year-old St Monans Church, a church built on the rocks by the Firth of Forth, and being the church closest to the sea in Scotland.

It is dedicated to Mr McFall’s Chamber

Gavin Bryars, June 2007


Gavin Bryars