String Quartet No.1 in a minor, Op.8
Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-87) was born in St. Petersburg, the son of a mathematician. He was intended for a similar career, but instead and against his parents wishes, chose to enter the Moscow Conservatory where he studied piano and composition with Georgi Catoire and Nikolai Myaskovsky.
A product entirely of the Soviet era, he embraced the so-called school of Soviet realism and is considered one of the most important representative composers of this period. He wrote in virtually every genre and his work for children in particular were considered of great importance. His best known work is his suite for small orchestra although his violin and cello concertos have enjoyed considerable popularity.
His first string quartet was composed in 1928. Although it was a youthful work, Kabalevsky demonstrates complete mastery of form and of his material, especially in the use of his harmonies and cross rhythms. In four movements, the work follows a cyclical form. The lyrical opening Allegro moderato, after a soft, slow, modal Andante introduction, proceeds to create a haunting, atmosphere of yearning. (our sound-bite starts at the Allegro) A highly rhythmic and boisterous Scherzo comes next. Over a pulsing 16th notes, a Russian folk melody is roughly drummed out. The second theme is more lyrical. The slow movement, Andantino, stands in stark contrast, with reflective and subdued thematic material. The finale, Allegro assai, brings many of the same qualities as the Scherzo. A wild, whirling rhythm serves as an accompaniment to a Russian folk song.
This highly appealing work has been unavailable for long periods of time and we are pleased to offer it to professionals and amateurs both of whom should find it quite appealing.