String Quartet No.3 in G Major, Op.26 "Quartet Slav"
"String Quartet No.3 in G Major, Op.26, composed in 1890, is better known by its subtitle “Quartet Slav” (Slave in the French). Despite its subtitle, with the exception of the last movement, the quartet is not program music, but rather music which consists entirely of Slavic melodies. The opening movement, Moderato, begins in an almost elegiac mood. This is dissipated by the appearance of the more lively second theme with its use of pizzicato chords in all of the voices. The main theme of the second movement, Interludium, is introduced by the cello and then elaborated by the first violin sounds as if it is straight out of the Russian Orthodox liturgy. Its chorale-like treatment creates the peaceful, somber aura of a church service. The third movement, Alla Mazurka is a bright, dance-like and lively. At times all four voices are given a series of double-stops to play simultaneously. The effect is quite orchestral, but also very striking. The massive finale, Allegro moderato is subtitled Une fête Slave. It is clearly the quartet’s center of gravity and no doubt led to the subtitle that the work as a whole has traveled under. Again the music is very densely scored, so much so, that one is struck by its potential suitability for a string orchestra. However, this was hardly accidental as Glazunov was obviously trying to create a tone picture of a village festival in all its various moods. "----The Chamber Music Journal
Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936) was born in St. Petersburg, the son of a wealthy book publisher. He began studying piano at the age of nine and started composing not long after. In 1879, he began studies with Rimsky- Korsakov. Glazunov’s progress was so fast that within two years, Korsakov considered Glazunov more of a junior colleague than a student. Between 1895 and 1914, Glazunov was widely regarded, both inside and out, as Russia’s greatest living composer. His works include symphonies, ballets, operas and seven string quartets in addition to various instrumental sonatas.
Often programmed in Russia, this fine work , inexplicably, is virtually never heard in the West. Certainly, it is a quartet which should be of interest to both professionals and amateurs alike.