U.S.S.R. Prize Winning
String Quartet No.2 in D Major
First Time Available in the West
In 1947, more than a dozen years before Shostakovich sat down to write his famous 8th Quartet, which is dedicated to the victims of fascism and tyranny, Arkady Filippenko (1912-1983) wrote his monumental String Quartet No.2, commemorating the heroic struggle of the Soviet people during World War II.
We are extremely proud to introduce this outstanding work, every bit as powerful and as fine as Shostakovich's String Quartet No.8. This is the only string quartet to have won the U.S.S.R. State Prize (1948). Our edition made possible the U.S. premiere of this work in November of 2006 by the Lawrence University String Quartet who subsequently performed it on Wisconsin Public Radio.
It is truly a mystery why this quartet and the rest of Filippenko's music has not taken its rightful place along side of that of Shostakovich and Prokoviev. The only explanation we can think of is the internal politics of the former Soviet Union which rarely championed non-ethnic Russians. Ukrainian artists in particular were adversely affected by this bias.
Arkady Filippenko was born in the small Ukrainian village of Pushcha-Vodycia now a suburb of Kyiv (Kiev). He began his formal musical training quite late and only after he had already graduated from vocational school. He eventually came to the attention of the composer Ilya Vilensky who was director of a local music school. There Filippenko learned to play the piano, studied music theory and composition, all while working as a metal turner at a shipbuilding factory. As he progressed quickly, Vilensky sent him on to the Lysenko Music Institute, the most important music school in the Ukraine and the forerunner of the Kyiv Conservatory. Filippenko began as a night student but eventually obtained permission study full-time. His main teachers were Lev Revutsky, Victor Kosenko and Boris Liatoshinsky. After graduating from the Institute in 1939, he was immediately drafted into the Red Army where he was fortunate enough to remain in a military orchestra throughout the Second World War.
After the war, Filippenko returned to Kyiv where he pursued a career as a composer, winning the State Prize of the USSR in 1948 for this work. Filppenko was one of the organizers of the Ukrainian Composers Union and in the mid 1950's served as its executive secretary and vice-president. He wrote for nearly every genre. Besides his string quartets, he left six other chamber music works, some symphonies, an opera, and more than 500 songs. He was perhaps best known in the Soviet Union as a composer for the cinema.
String Quartet No.2 is in four substantial movements. Despite its dedication, it is not program music although because of its highly evocative nature, one can well imagine what it might mean. The first movement, Allegro moderato, begins quietly in canonic fashion, with each instrument entering one at a time. The mood stays subdued and the tempo moderate until suddenly a dramatic burst of energy brings forth a restatement of the main theme. (our sound-bite starts here). The muted second movement, Andante, has for its main theme a dreamy but sad plaint. The exotic second theme (where our sound-bite begins) is played against a drum beat pizzicato. Filippenko develops it by intertwining the two themes and building tension as he goes. The third movement, Allegro molto, is an indescribable, wild bacchanal of folk melody. Really unmatched in the literature, we have included it in its entirety. In the finale, Adagio, the exotic theme of the second movement, accompanied by the pizzicato drumbeat, returns. This time, the mood is somber though not funereal. Slowly the march disappears and the music becomes softer and more lyrical. (our sound-bite begins here) Then tension is slowly built to a series tremendous climaxes before the music softly dies away. But the closing measures are not of death and despair but rather an apotheosis of hope, for unlike the victims of tyranny and fascism who died, the Soviet People lived on to survive the terrible cataclysm that was World War II.
Professional groups who offer this extraordinary work will certainly be hailed for introducing a superb masterpiece, yet the technical demands are within the range and ability of experienced amateur players. This quartet has been carefully edited and corrected by Skyler Silvertrust from a copy of the original score located in Lviv (Lvov), Ukraine. Like all of our works, it is printed on top grade paper with an ornate cover and biographical information about the composer.
Parts & Score $36.95