As I noted earlier, I took the second half of July off from working on my fifth quartet to start sketching my Schumann Trilogy. In 12 days, I made a good draft of the third piece, a few healthy sketches of the first piece, and batted my head hopelessly against the second. More on that later.

Now I’m back on the home stretch of the fifth quartet. This is when I try to find the weakest passage in the piece and see if I can improve it, on the assumption that a chain is only as strong as its least durable link.

In the case of the fifth quartet, the weakest passage is very obvious to me: it’s a little more than halfway through the last movement. I wanted this passage to be an abrupt detour from the path of the piece, but I’m not convinced I’ve got it right. So, with five weeks to go before score and parts have to be delivered, I’m completely tearing down the last movement and rethinking it from the ground up.

And that’s a scary place to be – but a place I’ve been often enough before.

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