The String Quartet

wed 27 oct 2021 10:00 

Presented by Leo Samama.

Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951) – String quartet no.2, in F sharp minor-kl.t.,

opus 10 (1907-08)

  1. Mässig (moderato), 2. Sehr rasch, 3. Litanei, langsam,4. Entrückung, sehr langsam

Performers: Leipziger Streichquartett, Christiane Oelze


Anton Webern (1883-1945) – Langsamer Satz (1905)

Performers: Emerson String Quartet


Anton Webern (1883-1945) – Fünf Sätze für Streichquartett, opus 5 (1909)

  1. Heftig bewegt, 2. Sehr langsam, 3. Sehr bewegt, 4. Sehr langsam, 5. In zarter Bewegung

Performers: Emerson String Quartet


The innovation in the String Quartet in f-sharp key, opus 10, is to be found in the addition of a soprano in the third (Litanei) and fourth movement (Entrückung). They sing texts from Der siebente Ring (1907) by the poet Stefan George (1868-1933). This act has similarities with Beethoven’s addition of a choir to his last symphony. We must ask ourselves whether this quartet is still a quartet.

Schönberg regarded the singing voice as an inevitable necessity. With this music, he had a personal crisis to deal with and the poems by Stefan George had to express that. The crisis concerned the love affair of his wife Mathilde with the young painter Richard Gerstl (1883-1908).

The Langsamer Satz from 1905 by Anton Webern is also linked to love, namely for his fiancée Wilhelmine Mörtl. In this piece it is evident that Webern knew how to write beautiful melodies. How quickly the young Webern developed can be seen in the Fünf Sätze für Streichquartett (opus 5) from 1909. In barely four years, his music transformed from tonal and melodic to atonal, contrasting, condensed and hyper-emotional.

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