Reinhold Gliere, String Quartet No.4 in f minor, Op.83

Reinhold Gliere Today, the reputation of Reinhold Gliere (1875-1956) (sometimes spelled Glier) rests primarily upon his symphonies, ballets and operas, however his many chamber music works are widely regarded as of the highest quality by those who are familiar with them. Gliere was born in the then Russian city Kiev. He began his musical studies there with the famous violin teacher Otakar Sevcik, among others. He then went to the Moscow Conservatory where he studied with Sergei Taneyev, Anton Arensky and Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov. His superb compositional technique was quickly recognized by his teachers and he won several prizes for his early works, including his First String Sextet which took the prestigious Glinka Prize from a jury consisting of Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov and Liadov. Gliere, himself, taught at the Moscow and Kiev conservatories for nearly 40 years. Among his many successful students were Khachaturian, Prokofiev and Miaskovsky.

Of Gliere's chamber music, the respected scholar and critic Professor Sabaneievwrote:

"His chamber compositions show him to have been an absolute master of form, and a virtuoso in his control of the resources of musical composition and expression...He excelled as a melodist and his themes often reveal the contours of the Russian style which he understood so well. He had a masterly knowledge of the instruments and of their resonance, hence his chamber works are astonishingly rich and well written."

String Quartet No.4 in f minor, Op.83 was composed in 1943. Tonally, though it is separated by nearly twenty years from No.3, the language is pretty much the same. This is a late Romantic era work. The main theme to the opening movement, Allegro moderato, sounds Russian. Though lyrical, at times, it is mostly edgy and nervous with long frantic quick passages. The second movement, Vivace, is lighter than the preceding movement, but it could not really be described as playful. There is an interesting contrasting trio. Next comes an Andante, which is a theme and eleven finely contrasting variations. The theme is quite romantic, the variations showcase Gliere's masterly compositional technique. The finale, Allegro, bursts forth with a series of loud chords which then lead to a type of restless, fugue. Slower and very romantic interludes provide fine contrast. This is a good work which deserves concert performance and can also be recommended to accomplished and experienced amateur players.

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