Quartet no.5

String Quartet No.5 in Bb major, op.92

  1. Allegro non troppo
  2. Andante
  3. Moderato

If his symphonies and other large public works can be read as a chronicle of Soviet history for most of the twentieth century, his string quartets perhaps best chart his personal response. The Fifth is in three movements, each linked to the next by held notes, the first to the second by a very high solo violin F and the last two by a not-so-high chord with the cello playing in its highest register. The movements are also linked in the rhythm of their main themes - two short notes (dotted in the first movement) followed by longer ones - and in their contours as well, with the short notes rising by step and the ensuing ones falling by small leap. The main theme of the first movement, stated in the viola after a few chords, is also a permutation of his own ‘signature’ in musical terms, the opening letters of his name, D-S-C-H (translating into the musical notes of D, E flat, C and B). Rhythmic considerations dominate the first movement, occasionally to the point of obsession, with stark opposition of strong rhythms in the foreground and remaining as an uneasy background to more lyrical material. (CU)

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