The second quartet opens with a tight sfff subito pppp semitonal cluster, which then proceeds slowly to develop flights of fancy. The pace quickens in scurrying semiquavers, incorporating quartertones, heterophonic textures, and guitar-like strumming in glissandi. When rhythmic unison is briefly established, this triggers what might be regarded as a traditional interplay of motivic ideas, akin to a development. And although new soundblocks continue to be introduced, there is little sense of a recapitulation, although Penderecki seems to allude to some of the early textures.
The premiere of the second string quartet was given by the Parrenin Quartet in Berlin in 1970.
from notes by Adrian Thomas © 2013