• John McCabe
  • String Quartet No 2 (1972)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned for the Macclesfield Festival

  • 2vn.va.vc
  • 13 min

Programme Note

Flessibile – Vivo – Largo – Deciso – Mesto – Deciso

This quartet is in one continuous movement, in which the variations of tempo and texture derive from the development of the two motifs heard at the start of the work, a slowing series of descending notes heard initially on the first violin and a chordal theme following this, played by the viola and cello. The four contrasting sections are clearly different in character, with a lyrical first movement, a stuttering, flickering Scherzo, a slow movement contrasting static passages with vehement solo cadenzas, and a decisive, vigorous finale. Despite the varied nature of these sections, however, the work is closely worked from the initial two ideas.

The quartet was commissioned by Ernest Scragg and Sons Ltd, on behalf of the Macclesfield Arts Festival, and first performed at the 1972 Festival by the Delme Quartet. It lasts about 14 minutes.

© 1991 John McCabe