String Quartet No.4 in a minor
First Time Available in the West
We are pleased to present the fourth string quartet by the Ukrainian master composer Arkady Filippenko (1912-1983). (We also publish his three 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.4 in a minor dates from the 1971. It is in three movements. The two outer movements are quite substantial, the lyrical and calm middle movement is shorter. While the Third Quartet was essentially positive and optimistic, No.4 is overall of a darker hue. And while there are many tempo and mood changes, the work is by and large melancholy and restless It opens with a Largo rubato introduction in which the viola alone presents the main subject in a lengthy solo before the others join in. The tempo goes from sostenuto to moderato to allegretto to energico to dramatico and then agitato as Filippenko gradually builds tension and momentum at at times releasing it. The middle movement, an Adagio, is muted. It can be said from a mood standpoint to be shaped in an arc. It begins quietly, with a calm lyricism but as it proceeds to the middle the temperature rises first to risoluto, then allegretto and finally allegro before it subsides and closes adagio. The finale, Allegretto, begins in unusual fashion with three upper voices strumming away pizzicato like some giant guitar while the cello introduces a Ukrainian folk tune which slowly speeds up and becomes a wild and exciting dance..
This is another master quartet. We warmly recommend and encourage professional groups to offer this highly original and convincing work. While this is hardly a work for beginners, experienced and accomplished amateur players should manage it without difficulty. We wish to thank Stefan Hlouschko who kindly made a copy of the score available to us. The quartet has been carefully edited and corrected by senior editors Tomasz Golinski and Raymond Silvertrust.
Parts & Score $36.95