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Quartetto per archi No. 2 / String Quartet no. 2 - Krzysztof Penderecki

It can be said that Penderecki’s String Quartet no. 2 (1968) begins where the Quartet no. 1 had ended. After the opening chord, similar static timbres are heard. Penderecki continues his search for new sonoristic opportunities, but he does so without using the percussion effects omnipresent in the String Quartet no. 1; instead, he turns toward subtler experiments with bowing. These include the melodic use of vibration and glissando, fully notated quarter-tone series, and scorrevole (smoothly, fluently) articulations, which suddenly interrupt the intricate laces of glittering counterpoints. The timbral aura of the String Quartet no. 2 is also characterised by delicate harmonics, juxtaposed with sounds whistled by the musicians. Here again, Penderecki appears as a master of form, which is based on a simple succession of movements: fast—slow—fast.

The String Quartet no. 2 eventually dies out in an eloquent glissando on a slowly “detuned” lowest cello note. The work was premiered by the Parrenin Quartet in Berlin in 1970.

Regina Chłopicka

(from the programme book of Warsaw Autumn 2003)