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  Nigel Keay - String Quartet No.2 (1995)
Streichquartett II  -  Quatuor cordes N° 2  -  Quartetto d'archi n. 2  -  cuarteto de cuerdas n° 2
  1. Tempo giusto, (ca. 4' 50")
  2. Lento ed espressivo, (ca. 5' 46")
  3. Moderato. (ca. 5' 30")   Total duration: 16' 09"
  Audio of String Quartet No. 2: First movement mp3, Second movement mp3, Third movement mp3. Performed by Eugene Lee (first violin), Charmian Keay (second violin), Joe Ichinose (viola), & Gabriel Casalis (cello)  

String Quartet No.2 was composed in Devonport, Auckland, between November 1994 and February 1995 with financial assistance provided by the New Zealand Composers’ Foundation and the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa. The writing of the quartet was inspired by a love of the medium, particularly as a viola player having played two late quartets by Beethoven (op. 132 & 135) and the opus 74 quartet in close proximity to the composition. The first performance was given at the Watershed Theatre, Auckland on the 10th March 1995 by Simon McLellan & Sarah Hart (violins), Judith Williams (cello) and with the composer as violist.

Denys Trussell wrote in a subsequent review (Quote Unquote, April 1995): "Nigel Keay...had his substantial and dramatic Second Quartet given its first performances at these concerts. It is in part a synthesis of the strictly modernist and the freer post-modernist harmonic constructions: Keay is moving away from a music of sustained dissonance in this work towards a music where consonance and dissonance interact. The middle movement, slow and introspective, is a striking instance of this."

Since then String Quartet No.2 has established itself as one of the composer’s most-performed, and most widely-performed works having been played in New Zealand, Thailand, Japan, France and Germany by several different formations.

Nigel Keay's Second String Quartet was performed at the 17th Conference and Festival of the Asian Composers League in Bangkok by the Ensemble Contemporary Alpha (Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music), and at the “Stella Nova” Concerts in Tokyo.

It has been performed several times in New Zealand by the Nevine String Quartet (Elizabeth Patchett & Janet Armstrong - violins, Peter Barber - Viola, & Robert Ibell - Cello (members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra)) whose first performance of it was in 1997 (see programme pdf). A recording of their performance in 2002 was broadcast by Radio New Zealand's Concert station and can be heard on its Resound page along with an introduction by Kenneth Young.

String Quartet No.2 has also been performed also in NZ by the Ensemble Philharmonia (members of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra), and was performed in 2004 & 2005 in Paris and Germany by the Quatuor Aphanès.

In 2011 the Quartet was released on the Blumlein Records CD Music for Small Groups (CD-A023) performed by Eugene Lee, Charmian Keay, Joe Ichinose & Gabriel Casalis. This version was broadcast on Radio France Musique in August 2013.

See also: String Quartet No.1 (1983)

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