• Barry Guy
  • String Quartet No.2 (1970)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)
  • String Quartet
  • 25 min

Programme Note

The second quartet by Barry Guy was written between 1968 and 69, for his fellow students at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Orsini Quartet: it was their enthusiasm for new music, Barry Guy says, that gave him the initial impulse to formulate certain aspects of the strings' extensive vocabulary into a quartet. "One of my main endeavours", he goes on, "was to create a spontaneous involvement of the players, a 'group feeling', similar to that of a jazz group of an improvising ensemble. To suggest a sense of spontaneity, I 'loosened' the notation, so that within certain defined limits, the players could respond in a free and natural way to each other's statements (for instance, duration is given in seconds, rather than in conventional notational symbols); and various 'sound complexes' are transformed, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes gradually, by cues from one or other of the players."

The quartet is continuous, but is in two parts (each containing several contrasting sections): it ends with a coda in which various aspects of the original material are recapitulated, and here conventional, metrical notation is made use of where necessary. Here, too, a feeling of repose is introduced, in contrast to the highly dramatic, almost theatrical nature of much of the work.