Joachim Brunn de Neergarrd
of Steve Jones
String Quartet in c minor, Op.6
If this string quartet is anything to go by, it is a great pity indeed that the music of the Danish composer Joachim Bruun de Neergaard is virtually unknown. It is a marvelous work which not only belongs in the concert repertoire but will give amateurs everywhere great pleasure.
Neergaard (1877-1920) was born in Stubberrup, a small village in the east-central part of Jutland. He came from scions of an aristocratic family with long service to the Danish government and as such was eventually sent to take a law degree which he finished in 1901. However, Neergaard's true love was music and not the law. He had studied piano from the time of his youth and wished to pursue a career in music. To this end, he took advanced piano studies while at the same time studying theory and composition. Neergaard, whose life was relatively short, was not a prolific composer and left us with less than 30 works.
His string quartet was composed between 1908 and 1910. It is written in a post-Brahmsian, late Romantic idiom. A style cultivated at that time by composers such as Arnold Schoenberg (before he started composing 12 tone music), Dohnanyi, Busoni, Zemlinsky, Karl Weigl, and Franz Schmidt. It is in four movements, beginning with a highly dramatic, rich and powerful Allegro moderato that immediately captures the listener's attention. A slow movement, Sostenuto assai, is almost funereal in quality, a deeply felt elegaic piece. The highly original third movement, Scherzo, allegro, is full of whirling, syncopated lines and is very cleverly conceived. The opening theme to the finale, Allegro ma non troppo, resembles a fate motif and bears some relationship to the first movement. The music marches inexorably forward gaining excitement as the tempo increases until finally a stretto leads to the coda, Presto, and a tremendous whirlwind finish.
Of this quartet, the editor of The Chamber Music Journal has written:
"Neergaard's Quartet is as fine as anything from this period. The melodies are lush and memorable, the movements perfectly executed and the part-writing leaves nothing to be desired."
Score & Parts: $31.95