String Quartet no. 2 in c Minor Op. 13, Mvt. 1, Adagio / Mvt. 2, Allegro con brio (attacca)

Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
9 minutes
Modern classical music
String quartet
Instrumental parts
Not available

Movement 1 � Adagio This freeform introduction is punctuated by the opening unison statement; a small cell of notes, which forms a motif. This motif appears under guise in other movements throughout the piece. The harmonies are moody and sometimes dissonant. Unison and chordal sections contrast with counterpoint, including a fugal middle section. This movement leads directly into the following Allegro without pause.

Movement 2 � attacca Allegro con brio The centerpiece of the work, this movement brings dark, moving shadows of the prelude into focus. The identity of the movement is the melodic motif which is introduced by the viola, imitated by the cello, and reappearing under different variations throughout. There are also identifiable rhythmic motifs that will reappear throughout this movement as well as those to follow. The form is binary (sonata allegro) and is monothematic. The development section travels through the most distant keys of any of the movements, and this is largely done, not only to build tension, but to maximize the different tonal color therein, as instruments resonate quite differently in different keys. I see the home key of c minor as a dark, broiling, hellish key, and attempt to contrast it by exploiting the lighter color of Gb major, which to me, floats like a cloud. The movement is dominated by elements of tension, struggle, vain moments of heroism and the hopeless adoration of beauty which is fleeting. In the end, tragedy is inevitable and emptiness prevails.

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