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Per Nørgård : String quartet No. 2 - Quartetto Brioso, op.21


Publisher Wilhelm Hansen
Category
Works for 2-6 Players
Sub-Category String Quartet
Year Composed
1958
Duration 20 Minutes
Orchestration
str4tet
Availability Sale from Musicroom or Music Dispatch  Explain this...
Discography
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Full Score(s) WH28601

Programme Note

STRING QUARTET Nr. 2 – QUARTETTO BRIOSO (1953-54/1958)

Short version
The spectrum of sound, the gesticulation – in short, the very nature of the strings – has always had a central place in my output, demonstrated by the numbers of string quartets, concertos with string soloist, chamber and solo works. The interest dates back to my school years, when I was fortunate to be able to compose for a cello-playing schoolmate and to accompany him on the piano. I discovered then the innumerable nuances of sound and playing varieties offered by just one bow, four strings and five fingers..

My second string quartet – Quartetto Brioso – has a firm root in the Nordic tradition and is strongly inspired by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) and my teacher Vagn Holmboe (1909-96).

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Long version:
The spectrum of sound, the gesticulation – in short, the very nature of the strings – has always had a central place in my output, demonstrated by the numbers of string quartets, concertos with string soloist, chamber and solo works. The interest dates back to my school years, when I was fortunate to be able to compose for a cello-playing schoolmate and to accompany him on the piano. I discovered then the innumerable nuances of sound and playing varieties offered by just one bow, four strings and five fingers..

My second string quartet – Quartetto Brioso – has a firm root in the Nordic tradition and is strongly inspired by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) and my teacher Vagn Holmboe (1909-96).

The quartet has a motivic core, which manifest itself in all three movements, namely a descending half-tone and whole-tone.
The first movement introduces this motive in a strongly rhythmic “brioso” elaboration, which after a culmination is succeeded by a more open and relaxed development of the core motive.
This quieter character is found again in the opening of the second movement, but has been transformed into a static introspective tension. With imperceptible changes the sound is set in motion and the tension is released with a quavering manifestation of the core motive, which in the remainder of the movement repeats itself in the high register of the first violin. Meanwhile the other instruments establish the movement´s wavering from sonority to melody.
The last movement is also characterized by the ideas of transformation and is actually called “Metamorphosis”. The core motive exists as an accompaniment to a slow, expansive melodic development in the viola. A rapid leggiero section suddenly replaces the expressive introduction and with dance-like lightness the core motive is treated from continually new angles. At the climax the expressive melody from the introduction emerges. With a pianissimo version of the viola melody (accompanied by a col-legno syncopation in the other strings) the movement – and the quartet – ends, now transformed into a dance.

Per Nørgård


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