String Quartet No.2


string quartet
String Quartet
Commissioned by Southern Arts on behalf of the regional ContemporaryMusic Circle
First Performance
16.2.86, Mason Croft Hall, Stratford Upon Avon: Endellion String Quartet FP(Revised): 7.6.90, BathFestival, Christ Church, Bath: Endellion String Quartet

A4 facsimile score (fp) 0-571-55504-7 and parts (fp) 0-571-55505-5 on sale

Programme Notes

My second string quartet was, in its original form, composed between November 1984 and December 1985, and given around ten performances by the Endellion Quartet in the spring of 1986. It then consisted of two movements, lasting some 16 minutes, a Presto and a Berceuse, the second movement roughly twice as long as the first. But I became dissatisfied with the work as a whole, and in 1987 decided to withdraw it for revision, a process which was finally complete in December 1989. While the first movement – which is throughout very fast and virtuosic – has survived largely intact, with only a few minor insertions and elisions, the original second movement has disappeared completely, and been replaced by no less than five new movements, all of them short. These are: a hushed prestissimo ‘intermezzo’ which follows on without a break from the first movement, almost as a coda to it; a scherzo and trio, without reprise of the scherzo; a very brief interlude, upbeat to a slow, chorale-like intermezzo; and a finale which contains elements of recapitulation before being rushed off into an unexpected direction by a very truncated fugue. The duration of this new version of the quartet is no more than that of the old one. The original commission for the work was funded by Southern Arts on behalf of the Regional Contemporary Music Circuit; the first performance of the revised version was given by the Endellion Quartet in June 1990 as part of the Bath Festival; the first London performance was given by the Brindisi Quartet in November 1990. My second string quartet is dedicated to Nicholas Maw.

Colin Matthews

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