September 22, 2014
String Quartet No 1 in D Major, op.11
Pyotr Iliyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer born 7 May 1840. During his life as a composer he worked basically on symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, chamber music and a choral. By the time Tchaikovsky composed this string quartet he was a professor at the Moscow Conservatory and with this job's payment he was barely getting by. The composer decided to present the concerto of his own chamber music, because it was cheaper than to present a full orchestra at the Conservatory, at the urging of his friend Nikolay Rubinstein. The Quartet was written on the fly just weeks before the concert.
The concerto has four movements:
1. Moderato a semplice (D major)
- This movement begins with a sonata and its opening theme is played by the whole quartet in unison and Tchaikovsky uses this unusual meter of 9/8. Next the string quartet is divided in contrapuntal lines, and the ensemble joins together to play the second theme, and then split again. As the movement develops the composer brings its counterpoint to the foreground and, at the same time, contrast it with the background, where he brings the original syncopated theme. A dense, but clear texture leads the movement to its climax right before the return of the opening material. The movement ends in a coda and culminates in a rapid playing of D major chords.
2. Andante cantabile (Bb major)
- This second movement is the most famous in this concerto and probably one of the most famous hits in Tchaikovsky's career. The first theme of it was based on a Ukrainian folk song, “Vanya sat on the sofa”, and was heard by the composer while he was visiting his sister’s house at Kamenka, probably whistled by a house painter. The movement is an intensely
STRING QUARTET NO 1 IN D MAJOR, OP.11
emotional one and alternates between this folk theme and this second theme which is wholly original...
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