Two top string quartets come together in Williams’ Fado-inspired Saudade.

C ommissioned for Musica Viva by Linda Matthews and Robin Budden in honour of their mothers, my new string octet celebrates the role of a mother in the lives of us all, as protector, mentor, carer and friend.

It also offered a deeply personal opportunity for me to explore that relationship, especially in the context of having lost my own mother to cancer in 2006. The new work was to be scored for double string quartet, for a premiere performance by the combined forces of the Doric String Quartet (UK) and the Pavel Haas Quartet (Czech Republic).

As a title I chose the Portugese word “Saudade”, meaning: nostalgia, reminiscence of something, once loved, but now lost. Reflecting on this concept, the string octet aims to portray the various emotional states associated with the mother and child relationship, throughout the cycle of life.

The first movement, The Dance of Life, celebrates the role of the mother as a creator, bringing new life into the world, nurturing, growing, and shaping into a life of love and joy. Movement two, Memento, pays homage to the lullaby, a musical genre quintessentially linked...