String Quartet No 3 (“Nofinishi”) (2009)
African Journal No 31
For Kevin Volans on his 60th birthday

Publisher: Bardic Edition
Score BDE 963; Parts BDE 963a-d
Available from
Goodmusic Publishing
Duration: 5'30"

Recorded by the Nightingale String Quartet on "The Bow Project" (TUTL FKT 044).

First performance: Sunday 19 July 2009; Nederburg Concert Series, Manor House, Paarl, South Africa; Nightingale String Quartet (Denmark).
Further performances: Nightingale String Quartet South African Tour: 21.07.2009; Miriam Makeba Theatre, University of South Africa, Pretoria; 22.07.2009; Atrium, Wits University, Johannesburg; 24.07.2009; Howard College Theatre, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; 26.07.2009; Odeion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa; 28.07.2009; University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa; 31.07.2009; Beethoven Room, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa / ? National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa; Odeion Quartet

Programme note
From the time I initiated the Bow Project in 2002, I wanted to contribute a piece myself, based on the song Inxembula (The ugly one), because this was Nofinishi’s personal song which I vividly remember her performing at a concert in Grahamstown in 1998. My short String Quartet No 3 also has a connection to a solo piano piece, Ways To Put In the Salt, which I wrote in 2002, the year the Bow Project was launched at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and where I explored uhadi bow song techniques, especially the use of overtones. The quartet is very concise, in keeping with the directive all composers had in this project, and draws together many compositional threads I have explored in the past decade. It is dedicated to Kevin Volans in honour of his 60th birthday in 2009. The first performance was given by the Nightingale String Quartet in the Nederburg Manor House, Paarl on 19 July 2009.
String Quartet #3 is a crystalline example of what I have chosen to call the composer’s ‘spider’s strategem’. A composing system unique to Michael Blake which is heavily indebted to the intricately complex but always perfectly resolved structure of the web. Despite shifting patterns based on ancient uhadi bow music, and harmonies that bring mediaeval choral textures to mind, the futuristic sound progression of this quartet is irrevocably blakean: the end begins with the first note played.”
— Aryan Kaganof, Kagablog, Tuesday 14 April 2009

“’n Kort en stimulerende slot vir ’n interessante, uitdagende musikale ervaring.” “A short, stimulating conclusion to an interesting, challenging musical experience.”
— Naudé van der Merwe, Die Burger, Cape Town, Monday 20 July 2009
— Translation: Giel Swart

“At some point in one of the final pieces of the evening (Blake’s String Quartet No. 3 (Nofinishi) 2009) it suddenly felt as if I was listening simultaneously to each musician separately! It was an astonishing experience and I wondered if this was somehow intricately wound round, into and from the presence of Mantombi — she certainly responded with her arms and body! Four individuals bound together by an entangled weaving of musical notes contributing along a time-stream of precision and fluidity. And this was where the second ‘magic’ of the evening took on a zest all of its own!”
— Helgé Janssen, Helgé Janssen Blog, Friday 24 July 2009

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