(duration ~ 23:00)
for string quartet

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Program note –
In four movements, String quartet No. II was composed for the Goldner string quartet to commemorate the 90th birthday of one of Australia’s most prominent musical philanthropists, Kenneth Tribe AC AO and is dedicated to him.
Leaning towards more traditional forms of structure, the work is divided into 4 contrasting movements that encompass a wide range of emotional expression. The musical language is simply based on the building of musical resonances, melodic contours and rhythmic impetus.
The compositional process can be difficult to quantify & frequently operates on a subliminal level. My past experience with the members of the quartet (we all played together in the Australia Ensemble from 1987 –92) served as a touchstone in the writing of this work, this knowledge in some ways informing certain decisions during the compositional process.

The first movement opens with a series of fragmented gestures, fluctuating in tempo and dynamic, the music taking a moment to find its feet before settling into a driving exploration of changing metres, polyrhythms, displaced accents and percussive devices. It ends with a free form viola solo that is underpinned by an accompaniment of repeated cello semiquavers and displaced violin pizzicato ostinati.

Predominantly in a lilting feel of five eight, the 2nd movement acts as a short interlude of whimsical character, separating the serious determination of the 1st movement and the subdued lyricism of the 3rd movement.

In contrast to the rest of the quartet, the 3rd movement consists of music of a slow and sustained nature.
It is characterised by long extended melodies that gather momentum, reaching a peak of intensity about halfway through, that then subside and fade to nothing over an unresolved sustain.

A “pre-amble” marked “freely with expression – quasi improvisatorial” opens the 4th movement and serves as a bridging mechanism. A series of free form violin phrases are echoed by muted cello, supported by a sustained drone of the middle voices. The mood is broken by a sudden “attacca” which launches the final section of the work, a manic and unrelenting scherzo characterized by feverish semiquaver activity, percussive string writing and rhythmic invention.

String quartet No. II was commissioned for the Goldner quartet and Musica Viva by Kenneth W. Tribe.

I – (4:45
II – (2:35)
III – (6:30)
IV – (8:00)