My second string quartet (completed in 1985) in its original form consisted of two movements, lasting some 16 minutes, a Presto and a Berceuse. But I became dissatisfied with the work as a whole, and in 1987 decided to withdraw it for revision, a process which was finally completed in December 1989.
While the first movement – which is throughout very fast and virtuosic – has survived largely intact, the original second movement has disappeared completely, and been replaced by no less than five new movements, all of them short. These are: a hushed prestissimo ‘intermezzo’ which follows on without a break from the first movement, almost as a coda to it; a scherzo and trio, without reprise of the scherzo; a very brief interlude, upbeat to a slow, chorale-like intermezzo; and a finale which contains elements of recapitulation before being rushed off into an unexpected direction by a very truncated fugue. The duration of this new version of the quartet is no more than that of the old one.
The original commission for the work was funded by Southern Arts on behalf of the Regional Contemporary Music Circuit.