duration: 25 minutes
String Quartet No.2
Originally written in 1991, I rewrote substantial parts of this quartet
in 1998. There are six movements, each successively increasing in length,
and perhaps also depth. Out of the light, pattering music of the first
movement emerges a repeated note figure which comes to dominate the piece,
appearing in a wide variety of guises: Vivaldi-like pecking in II, lush
repeated chords in III, sort-of minimalist syncopations in IV, wild down-bow
hacking in V, passionate arabesques in VI. I dislike programme music,
and would be irritated to find I'd written some; however I was having
a hard time when working on this piece, and it shows. Surrounding the
fleeting patches of light are outbursts of strenuous counterpoint, and
long passages where the music seems almost to have lost its will to continue.
Nicholas Simpson was born in Manchester, and after a brief and
inglorious career in pop music took up composition seriously in his mid-twenties.
He studied for four years with John Tavener at Trinity College of Music,
where he won the Chappell Prize for composition and the Ricordi Prize
for conducting (twice). In 1987 he was a finalist in the Yehudi Menhuin
and Royal Overseas League competitions, and whilst still a student his
first string quartet was given by the Roth Quartet at the Purcell Room.
Subsequently he has worked with artists as diverse as the Composers' Ensemble,
the B.B.C. Symphony Orchestra and the English String Quartet.
Recent performances include a new piece for Andrew Ball, and Cold
Epiphany for the European Chamber Ensemble, given in London in
1999. His music has been broadcast in Britain and abroad. An orchestral
piece, Your Passacaglia, has just been named joint winner
of the Surrey University international composition competition. Nicholas
Simpson lives in Manchester with his wife and three children.
Visit Nicholas Simpson's website at www.nicholassimpson.com
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