MAUICE RAVEL String Quartet in F Major
This youthful masterpiece signaled
Ravel’s emergence as Debussy’s peer and heir apparent. The composer’s first and
only string quartet elicited largely favorable comparisons to Debussy’s celebrated
String Quartet in G Minor. Recurring intervals, melodic shapes, textures, and
sonorities give the four movements a powerful sense of organic unity.
ALBAN BERG String Quartet, Op. 3
Composed in 1910 but not performed
in public until 1923, Berg’s first quartet was a turning point in his career.
Although he acknowledged how much he had learned from his teacher, Arnold
Schoenberg, he credited his wife with being the primary inspiration for his Op.
3 String Quartet. In a letter Berg wrote to her after a performance of the work
in Salzburg in 1923, he declared that it was she “to whom the quartet belongs
and who brought it into being.”
JOHANNES BRAHMS Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34
Originally conceived as a string
quintet and later adapted for two pianos, Brahms’s masterpiece represents a
near-perfect marriage of keyboard and strings. Only after Clara Schumann
observed that the music was “so full of ideas” that a full orchestra was needed
to do it justice did Brahms recast it as a piano quintet. In this form, the
musicologist Sir Donald Francis Tovey wrote, “the rhythmic incisiveness of the
piano is happily combined with the singing powers of the bowed instruments.”