String Quartet No.2 in E Major, Op.45
The famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann warmly recommended this quartet to both professionals and amateurs alike in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.
Vincent d’Indy (1851-1931) was born of aristocratic stock. His musical talent was recognized by his grandmother who raised him and saw that he received piano lessons from famous teachers. Despite this, he was sent to law school in Paris. Instead, D’Indy, who was intent on becoming a composer, joined a Parisian orchestra as a timpanist to learn music “from the ground up.” Both Massenet and Bizet were impressed by his early compositions and encouraged him to show his work to César Franck. Franck did not share their enthusiasm and was reputed to have told D’Indy, “You have ideas but you cannot do anything.” Apparently those ideas were enough, however, to convince Franck to show D’Indy how to do things, as he took the latter on as a pupil. Though D’Indy was to assimilate and be influenced by many different sources, Franck and his music left the most telling mark on him. D’Indy’s reputation, during his own lifetime was considerable, having founded, in 1900, what was to become the most important music school in France after the Paris Conservatory—The Schola Cantorum.
String Quartet No.2 appeared in 1897 and is perhaps a tribute to d'Indy's teacher César Franck. He uses the same cyclical method used by Franck in his own string quartet. More surprisingly however is the fact that all of the material stems from s light four note motto given out at the beginning of the work. After a slow introduction, the first movement, Lentement-Animé, the main theme, a lovely and lyrical melody is presented first by the cello and then by all. The second theme is dominated by its rhythm and downward chromaticism. The second movement, Très animé is an upbeat scherzo and is dominated by its brisk rhythm. The rhythms from the first subject is carried over as an accompaniment to the mystical second subject. In the slow movement, Très lent, the motto is not immediately recognizable as it is expertly covered by a lovely chordal chorale of great breadth and feeling. The finale, Lentement-Très vif, has a brief slow introduction consisting of the motto, before the triumphant main theme slowly comes forth. Several other ingenious subjects follow.
This is a work of great imagination and originality. It deserves a place in the concert hall and amateurs will also find it a wonderful work to play.
Parts & Score: $38.95