String Quartet No.2

This work was composed between January and March 1993 to a commission from the 1993 Criccieth Festival in association with the Arts Council of Wales. It was first performed on Midsummer Day 1993 by the Allegri Quartet in the extraordinary Italianate village of Portmeirion on the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales. Knowing in advance the circumstances of the première, I attempted to create a work that was warm and lyrical in character. I also wanted to get away from the structural complexities of my First Quartet (1991), a single movement work lasting almost forty minutes, and to produce something more concise and direct.

The Second Quartet plays continuously but falls into three distinct sections, all carried over the same basic pulse. The opening section is quietly active, whilst the second is slow and features an impassioned viola solo against sustained chords. The final section is fast. It starts quietly and builds up considerable momentum, culminating in an energetic and optimistic conclusion.

John Pickard