Archive for May, 2012

Schulhoff, String Quartet No. 1

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Erwin Schulhoff

String Quartet No. 1, 1924

Erwin SchulhoffSchulhoff composed his String Quartet No. 1 in 1924 when he was 30. A relatively brief work at about sixteen minutes, it is colorful, unique work that strongly reflects Schulhoff’s Czech heritage as well as a heady mix of styles and trends “in the air” in the experimental mood of the 20’s between the two world wars. The opening Presto con fuoco is an amalgam of lively Czech dance and the motoric, muscular rhythms so prevalent in music of the time. The husky drive is especially reinforced by predominantly unison textures. The second movement is as curious as its title suggests: Allegretto con moto e con maliconia grotesca. Somewhat whimsical if not ironic, a kind of mock sentimentality features the lower voices – viola and cello – along with some wonderfully colorful sonorities through special effects including pizzicato, glissando and ponticello. (more…)

Bartók, Contrasts, for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, 1938

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Béla Bartók (1881-1945)

Contrasts, for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, 1938

Béla BartókBartók’s composed Contrasts in response to requests from two important musicians: the Hungarian violinist Joseph Szigeti and American clarinetist Benny Goodman. Szigeti was a longtime friend and colleague of Bartok’s who emigrated to the United States in 1939 to escape the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Goodman, the famous Jewish jazz musician, ultimately commissioned the piece. Szigeti and Goodman made the first studio recording with Bartók at the piano. Contrasts comprises three movements based on Hungarian and Romanian dance melodies and is Bartók’s only chamber music including a wind instrument.