Test Run
For String Quartet

Instrumentation: String Quartet
Duration: 10’

Programme Notes

My goal while composing Test Run was to fashion a high energy, virtuostic vehicle that could showcase the ensemble and its individual performers. I felt the piece needed to be vivacious, animated and extroverted sprinkled with quiet introspective moments to provide enough contrast and balance to merit ten successive performances at the 7th Banff International String Quartet Competition.

After the opening four measures of the piece, the first of two themes is introduced. This first theme is perhaps more rhythmical than lyrical at the outset. A short, precise unit of two sixteenths and an eighth is tossed to and fro amongst the four voices, gradually building into a full melody played by violin 1.

A return of the opening four measures ushers in a syncopated second theme which clicks away with motor-like precision. Eventually the first of three solos is played by the violins. Each of these solos was included to display the individual musician’s ability to perform a virtuostic cadenza.

Once the solo violins have finished, the two themes return and are developed with the same kinetic force that drove the opening minutes of the composition. A rhapsodic viola solo brings this spirited development to a close, eventually giving way to a warm and lyrical cello solo. This poignant solo provides the only glimmer into a major sounding tonality, a brief emotional and physical respite before the quartet plunges back into the austere and frenetic pace. The conclusion is a wild and relentless accelerando to the closing measures of the piece.

July 2001

Audio Samples

Test Run


August 31, 2001

Eric Harvie Theatre
Banff Centre
Banff, Alberta

Premiered in Competition by:

Daedalus Quartet Kuss Quartet
Delancey Quartet Penguin Quartet
Diabelli Quartet Quartet Excelsior
Enso Quartet Quatuor Johannes
Herold Quartet Quatuor Satie


"…an effective and attractive piece whose emotional breadth seemed almost to defy its mere
10-minute length..."
–Bob Clark, Calgary Herald September 2, 2001

Score/Parts Rental

For more information on score and parts rental forTest Run, contact John Estacio or the Canadian Music Centre.