Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8 in C minor Op. 110
Igor Stravinsky: Three Pieces for String Quartet (1914)
Johannes Brahms: String Quartet No. 2 in A minor Op. 51 No. 2
Duration approx. 65 minutes
Dmitri Shostakovich's String Quartet in C minor has often been said to be influenced by the impression of the destroyed city of Dresden, but posthumously published correspondence reveals its deeply autobiographical nature: Shortly before leaving for Dresden, Shostakovich had joined the Communist Party under external pressure, which he considered a severe moral defeat. He understood the quartet, imbued with his initials D-eS-C-H, as a requiem for himself.
Igor Stravinsky's Three Pieces for String Quartet were written in the canton of Valais, during Stravinsky's stays in Salvan and Leysin. In the later orchestral version, the pieces bear the characteristic titles "Danse," "Excentrique," and "Cantique." They are almost grotesque sound images of a rough Russian folk dance, a clownish figure and a reminiscence of Orthodox liturgical chant.
By his own words, Johannes Brahms had already composed and discarded 20 string quartets before he published the Quartet in A minor in 1873, whose sketch material dates back to 1860. The quartet begins with the restrained-moving vocal theme, which, with the tone letters A-F-A-E, is based on the life motto of his violinist friend Joseph Joachim ("Frei, aber einsam" / "Free, but lonely", F-A-E). The work has an inward-looking basic character, which is contrasted by dramatic episodes in each of the two middle movements and which merges into a defiantly plucky dance in the fourth movement.
Quartet in Residence of the Haute École de Musique Valais-Wallis:
Yu-Hsin Chen, violin
Giulio Casagrande, violin
Anna Bougie, viola
Ráhel Borka, violoncello
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