String Quartet No.2op. 100 (2004)
Boosey & Hawkes
Caja Madrid, Madrid
This second quartet was inspired most directly by the experience of writing No.1 and having it rehearsed and performed by its part-dedicatees the Endellions. Such delightful stimulus was irresistible, making me eager for more of the same but different, as soon as possible!
But its origins go far further back. The last movement of the 5 was written in 1994 as a self-sufficient memorial to a cherished representation of Boosey & Hawkes New York, David Huntley, who died that year. This first version was garnished with quotations from Debussy, Strauss, Schumann, Beethoven, Copland, Mahler, Brahms, Schubert, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, and more, amongst the may we both loved (many others, more recent and some still living, would have involved my tribute in copyright problems!). All these have been dropped from what is now the finale of String Quartet No.2; but its salient feature is retained, since it is built entirely around the DH (aka B) of its dedicatee’s initials.
The other movements grew, much later, out of this nucleus:
I Prelude – clearly foreshadowing the finale, “rhyming” with it in the overall shape. But here the serioso corale-material encloses a demure little valse marked “wistful and tender”.
II Capriccio – an extended paraphrase/fantasia upon an ultimate-favourite Schubert song, Anflösung.
III Lento – This movement has also been heard in an earlier form, as one of the many tributes solicited by Michael Berkeley for his final season as Director of the Cheltenham Festival. They were supposed to be 3’ each, but my 3’ is (of course!) more like 9. For I was by now thinking of a wider context, and the DH interval is a prominent landmark throughout this corale enclosing a lyric, that makes a more extended “rhyme” with I and hence with V.
IV Scherzo – also DH-based, a bubbly chattering movement with two Trios and plentiful other episodes.
V Epilogue – the corale-finale, here shorn of most of its quotes. They are replaced by new original material of some intensity; the re-introduction of Anflösung is also new.
David Huntley is celebrated here as before: the preceding 4 movements portray and are dedicated to 4 friends made in America who are all very much alive.
This programme note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer.