String Quartet No.1 in D Major
Glinka began work on his String Quartet No.1 in 1823 at the age of 19. It was more or less completed the following year. However, it was not edited so that it could be played until the 1940’s when Nikolai Myaskovsky and Vasily Shirinsky performed this task. It is in four movements. It opens with a an Allegro, written on a grand scale. The music has an undeniably vocal quality to it. The second movement, Larghetto, is a theme and set of three variations. The final variation, which approaches that of a recitatif, is particularly striking. Next comes a classical Menuetto and trio. Haydn seems to have served as his model. The finale, which is where the editors did most of their work, is a classical Rondo. It clearly has its antecedents in the works of Haydn, Mozart and the other classical era Viennese composers, the only ones with whom he would, at this point, have been familiar.
ikhail Glinka (1804-57) is commonly regarded as the founder of Russian nationalism in music. His influence on composers such as Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin and Mussorgsky was considerable. As a child, he had some lessons from the famous Irish virtuoso pianist John Field who was living in Petersburg, but his association with music remained purely amateur, until visits to Europe which began in 1830. In both Italy and Germany, he was able to formally study and improve his compositional technique. His music offered a synthesis of Western operatic form with Russian melody, while his instrumental music was a combination of the traditional and the exotic. He was the first within Russia to create romances, operas and chamber music on based on Russian themes using Russian folk melodies. Glinka’s first musical experience was connected with the orchestra of serf musicians which belonged to his uncle. From 1818 to 1822, he studied in St. Petersburg at a privileged school for children of noblemen. It was during this time, that he had piano lessons with Field and was exposed to the music of Mozart, Cherubini, and Rossini. Glinka subsequently took many trips abroad, the longest from 1830 to 1834 to Italy, Germany, and Austria. During his travels, he made a point of listening to the most famous operas, symphonies and chamber of the day and stored his new impressions for later use. The two major musical influences in his life were Russian folk music and the operas of Donizetti, whom he got know while he was in Italy. He also had the chance to meet both Berlioz and Mendelssohn during his travels.
This is an historically important work because it is one of the first, some scholars say the first string quartet written by a Russian composer. This may make it of interest to professionals. But it can be recommended to amateurs without reservation.