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Giacinto Scelsi

String Quartet #2 (1961)

The String Quartet No. 2 was written in the same year as Aion, and shares much of that work's rhythmic intensity. Here again is absolute music of incredible power and depth which also marks Scelsi's increasing development of string writing, using his individual metallic mutes which lend a grating sound to many of the passages, and writing such complex and powerful rhythms. The quartet is in five movements, with G as the focus note of the entire work: the first movement starting on G presents a dramatic introduction, climaxing at the golden section; the second evolves within the space of the minor second Bb-A, introducing violent dissonances and sharp buzzing overtones along with surreal metallic glissandi; the short third movement is centrally symmetric, focusing on B with occasional harmonic allusions, complete with percussive attacks and an extended bizarre pizzicato; the fourth movement returns to G with deep meditative resonance, developing into an impressive rhythmic conclusion of great power; the fifth movement, the longest of the five, develops harmonic associations in F minor (as Aion does in E Major), though the G gradually re-asserts itself and ends the work alone.

Edited from materials originally posted to the Internet in 1992 by Todd McComb
Copyright © 1992-2000, Todd Michel McComb.

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