• Helen Grime
  • String Quartet No. 2 (2021)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Wigmore Hall, with the generous support of Nicholas and Judith Goodison and The Radcliffe Trust; and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

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Unavailable for performance.

  • 2vn.va.vc
  • 19 min
    • 10th July 2021, Wigmore Hall, London, United Kingdom
    • 4th August 2021, St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM, United States of America
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Programme Note

My second string quartet was written during a particularly unusual and in some ways difficult period of my life.  I began work on the piece in January 2020, just a few months before the pandemic really hit Europe.  I was also newly pregnant with my second son at the time.  By the time I was finishing the first movement, we had gone into a strict lockdown which were strange circumstances in which to be expecting a child.

The piece is comprised of three movements. In the first movement the quartet is often treated as two duos - two violins plus viola and cello.  The music alternates between an austere chorale with hovering, hesitant harmonies and very fast virtuosic material.

The second movement was written with much intensity, partly because I now had extremely limited composing time with schools shut and no childcare, but also because of the shifting unknowns in the outside as well as in my own body.  I have no idea if all of this has had a direct bearing on the music I wrote, but I definitely felt an urgency when composing and a sense of purpose and focus that was now missing from so many other areas of life.

The third movement, written after the birth of my son, was composed at the beginning of 2021, so also during a strict national lockdown.  This movement is vastly different in character.  There is a sense of release and the music is almost always serene in stark contrast to the intensity and more complex, chaotic textures and tempos of the previous movements.

Helen Grime