String Quartet No.2
for String Quartet (2005)
Duration: 10 minutes
Availability: For Sale
Premiere: July 17, 2005 at L’Arsenal (Metz, France), Arditti Quartet.
"The program included the winner of the ensemble’s 2009 composition prize, the String Quartet No. 2, by Matthew Barnson (a former Saariaho student), heard in its U.S. premiere. Built almost entirely out of string harmonics and extended techniques, this is a strong and often fascinating work. Although Barnson’s approach recalls a number of composers — Xenakis in particular, who wrote entire quartets based largely on unconventional sound sources — his work is fresh and arises from a distinct personality. While its starting point is the instruments’ sonority, the piece also maintains great momentum through an alternating exchange and layering of instrumental gestures, as well as a deft use of surprising silences.
Congratulations are due to the Left Coast players for choosing a competition winner that isn’t simply a showoff piece, but instead is full of unusual technical and aesthetic challenges that were expertly addressed." - San Francisco Classical Voice, April 5, 2010