String Quartet No.2 in F Major
Moniuszko's String Quartet No.2 was, like his first quartet, composed in Berlin in 1840.
Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) was born into a family of Polish landowners in Ubiel, not far from Minsk in what was then Russian Poland, now Belarus. When he was 9, his family moved to Warsaw where he began piano lessons. Both his talent and interest justified sending him to Berlin to continue his studies. While in Berlin, he had an unexpected early success when he set three songs to the words of the Polish national poet, Adam Mickiewicz. Moniuszko was to become the foremost 19th century composer of Polish song and was widely regarded as the most important Polish composer of his time. He traveled widely outside of Poland and his operas were frequently performed in Prague and St. Petersburg as well as Warsaw, whose opera company he directed for a number of years. Among his friends and admirers were Glinka and Cui.
The source of Moniuszko's melodies and rhythmic patterns can usually be found in Polish folk dances such as the polonaise, mazurka, krakowiak, kujawiak and oberek. The bulk of his oeuvre consists of operas, operettas, and secular and sacred songs.
In the opening theme to the first movement, Allegro moderato, the influence of both Beethoven and particularly of Schubert can be heard. The main theme is lyrical with some lovely chromatic passages, while a second theme is more assertive and dramatic. The second movement, Andante, is in the form of an elegy. It begins with a funereal theme of Beethovian pathos which at times is punctuated by sudden bursts of anger. The scherzo, which follows, is entitled Baccanale monacale, and is a light, happy affair. The trio is a rustic fiddler's dance. The short airy finale, Allegro, is a whirling affair is over almost before it begins.
Not at all hard to play with fresh and appealing melodies, amateurs will enjoy making this works acquaintance.