Written in London and premiered at the Cheltenham Festival by the New London String Quartet in July 1952. For professionals and advanced students.
Richard Arnell was born in London in 1917 and educated at the Hall School, Hampstead and University College School before entering the Royal College of Music where he studied composition with John Ireland and Piano with Sir John Dykes. It was here that he began his first string quartet which was first performed by the Galimer Quartet at the 52nd Street New York Public Library in 1940. In 1938 he was awarded the Farrar Prize for composition. Between 1939 and 1947 he wrote his first important compositions, including his first three symphonies, concertos for violin and for piano and three string quartets. He was taken up by eminent conductors, among them Leopold Stokowski and Sir Thomas Beecham. From 1943 to 1946 he was music consultant to the BBC's North American Service. In 1947 he returned to England and became a composition teacher at Trinity College of Music, remaining on the staff until his retirement in 1987. He became an Honorary Fellow of the College in 1950 and a Principal Lecturer in 1981. He was appointed as music director and board member of the London International Film School from 1975 to 1988 when he retired. Arnell died in 2009.
'Frisco by those in the know is a jewel of a city. The titles of the four movements tell it all - Keeping Ahead of yourself is what you have to do in a city with a glorious past but an uncertain and uneasy present. Light Reflecting from the Bridge seems to warm the whole city, bathing it in a gently reddish hue. Alongside the pathway in one of the city parks is a sand track for horses, and every now and then you see Footprints in the Sand, some are in couples, others alone. The thoughts of those people who are alone touches you, but it is the Time to Be Certain and you regain your beliefs and confidence.
Written above all to be enjoyed by the players, audiences have shown that they too share that same delight. Both of Mason's string quartets are in four movements which exploit the instruments on equal terms, and both are in a musical language that enables the strings to sing as they should. These two quartets will happily share any programme with music from Haydn to Debussy and beyond.
Tonal, well crafted and lasting the test of time, this second string quartet was written in New York. The work received its first broadcast by the David Martin String Quartet on BBC Radio 3 in September 1947, and received its first performance in July 1952 at the Cheltenham Festival with the New London String Quartet. For professionals and advanced students.