String Quartet No. 2 “Messages“
String Quartet No. 2 “Messages” was commissioned by the Welsh Arts Council for the North Wales Music Festival. As he was composing the work, Panufnik’s mind went back to his early childhood:
When I was 7 or 8 years old, on holiday in the country, my favourite pastime was to put my ear to the wooden telegraph poles and listen to sounds produced by the wires vibrating in the wind. After a while I became convinced that I was listening to real music – which retrospectively I think was my first experience of the creative process, as for the first time I made use of my musical imagination.
These childhood experiences were translated into the sound form of String Quartet No. 2, which the composer called Messages. The quartet is a single-movement composition, based in terms of its musical language on two cells: a 4-note cell and a 3-note cell. The composer uses these to present his musical ideas, which convey in sound mysterious messages he used to hear in his imagination from the telegraph poles.Despite the composer’s declaration that String Quartet No. 2 “Messages” has no literary programme and is an abstract work, its sound world and specific narrative make it a surreal poem, transmitting to the listener similarly mysterious messages and signals.