String Quartet No.3 in G Major
First Time Available in the West
It is with great pleasure that we present the third of the great masterworks for string quartet by the Ukrainian composer Arkady Filippenko (1912-1983). (We also publish his three of his other string quartets)
Arkady Filippenko was born in the small village of Pushcha-Vodycia now a suburb of Kyiv (Kiev). As a pre-schooler, he spent a great deal of time outdoors with his grandfather, a shepherd who played and made pastoral pipes akin to those of the Swiss. The shepherd's pipe was the first instrument he learned to play. Later in grammar school, he learned the guitar, mandolin and balalaika and took part in the school orchestra. In 1926 at the age of 13, Filippenko began vocational school and completed a course in river transport. After graduation he began working at a shipbuilding factory. In his spare time, he played and directed amateur theatricals and came to the attention of the composer Ilya Vilensky who was director of a local music school. Vilensky invited Filippenko to attend the his school, and it was there Filippenko learned to play the piano, studied music theory and composition, all while still working as a metal turner at the 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 his Second String Quartet which evoked the struggles of the Soviet peoples during the war. 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.
It is truly a mystery why the music of Filippenko has not taken its 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 not only ruined the careers of many artists but also rarely championed non-ethnic Russians. Ukrainian artists in particular were adversely affected by this bias.
String Quartet No.3 dates from the 1950's. It is in three large movements. It opens with a brief, tonally wayward Adagio introduction which leads to the main part of the movement, Allegro, Molto leggiero, con fuoco. (our sound-bite begins here) This is certainly one of the most extraordinary movements in the literature. It begins pizzicato, with all of the voices strumming a simple but lovely Ukrainian folk melody. From here, Filippenko gradually builds tension and momentum, along the way demonstrating the incredible number of possibilities with which the theme is pregnant. It is truly a virtuoso display of compositional talent. The second movement, Andante, begins with muted strings and has the aura of mystery to it. The viola and second violin take turns developing the theme over a deep threatening note in the cello. In the last half of the movement, stormy interludes break forth and the main theme from the first movement makes a brief reprise before the music softly fades away, Andante pensieroso, on a chord which makes no resolution. Suddenly, a highly energetic but nervous Risoluto con fuoco bursts forth with great force. The tremendous tension and forward motion eventually lead to the glorious second theme, a proud melody introduced by the first violin. With hardly time for a breath, the music pushes forward faster and faster, almost out of control, it slows briefly before rushing head-long to the powerful ending.
Professional groups who offer this extraordinary work will certainly be hailed for introducing a superb masterpiece, but the technical demands are well within the range and ability of sound 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