String Quartet No.2 in c minor, Op.5
Ludolf Nielsen (1876-1939) was born in the Danish town of Nørre Tvede. He studied violin locally before moving to Copenhagen, where he studied violin, piano and theory at the Danish Royal Academy of Music. As a composer, he was largely self-taught. He served as a violist and also as conductor of the Tivoli Orchestra. At the same time, he formed a string quartet in which he also served as the violist. He composed in every genre and his works enjoyed a fair amount of popularity in Denmark, German and France up until the time of his death.
String Quartet No.2 in c minor was completed in 1904 and is a cyclical work in four movements. The first movement begins Lento maestoso with the main theme played in unison. The music immediately dies away into nothingness before turning into the pastoral Allegro moderato main section. The influence of Wagner and late Romantic Danish melody can be heard. The second movement, Allegro amabile, is very different in mood. It is a three part scherzo with a much brighter spirit. One hears echoes of Johan Svendsen. The trio section is more reflective. In the third movement, Andante lento, the high spirits of the preceding movement are replaced by the doleful strains of a funeral march. Further along, the music reaches an impassioned climax. The finale, Andante maestoso, is quite unusual. It begins with a slow, majestic march, which harks back to the main theme of the first movement, but it is so altered as to be almost unrecognizable. Suddenly the movement changes mood and tempo without warning, speeding ahead with unsuppressed energy and passion.
This fine work from the late Danish Romantic era has been out of print for nearly a century. We are pleased to make it available and believe it will be of interest to both professionals and amateurs.