String Quartet No. 2 (1963, rev. 1993)
for String Quartet
Duration: 16 min.
Recording: Albany TROY210
Premiere: 1974; Colorado PO Members
When writing my String Quartet No. 2, at the age of 17, it was my definite intention to achieve a structural and polyphonic sophistication my chamber music had lacked before. Almost all the thematic material in the one-movement design derives from the opening cello melody and its counter-subjects in the first few bars of the fugato.
Most will hear an unofficial four-movement sequence as the piece proceeds. In the first part the tempo gradually quickens, and the character changes from pensive to angular. The second part is modal in style and “religioso” in attitude; it has its own ternary shape with a lighter middle part. The third part is in a faster 6/8 meter with rondo scheme. It starts in a scherzando mood but thickness and intensity build along the way. This rushes into the fourth part, starting very loudly and then receding eerily. Some of the music from the first part is restated, and there is a solemn chordal conclusion. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)