String Quartet No.2 in f sharp minor, Op.13
"A convincing, perfectly proportioned masterwork." This was the opinion of the respected music critic, Aladar Toth. He was not alone in this opinion. In 1922, the year after Weiner composed this work, it won the prestigious Coolidge Prize for Chamber Music.
During the first fifteen years of the 20th century, Leó Weiner (1885-1960) was widely regarded as a "wunderkind", winning virtually all of the important Hungarian and Austrian competitions between 1903 and 1908. Weiner was born in Budapest and entered the Budapest Academy of Music at the age of 16, where studied composition with Hans Koessler. His rise was meteoric and he Critics dubbed him the "Hungarian Mendelssohn." Weiner was essentially a Romantic composer and his compositions, though certainly featuring modern touches, never ventured into either polytonalism or atonalism. As these trends pioneered by Stravinsky, Bartok and Schonberg began to come into vogue, Weiner's reputation and that of his music slowly receded, as did the music of other contemporary composers who remained faithful to traditional tonality.
The opening movement to String Quartet No.2 begins with a slow, somber Lento which proves to be an introduction of substantial length. Eventually it softly dies away and is followed suddenly by two loud chords and quick chromatic passages which herald the arrival of the Allegro with its powerful, post-romantic theme. ( Our sound-bite starts at the Allegro) The second movement, Molto vivace, is a nervous, modern scherzo. Full of energy, the music is always moving forward. The lovely, but questioning, main theme to the slow movement, Andante, which follows the scherzo without pause, is first given out by the cello. The mood is reflective and a bit mysterious. The lilting finale, Allegro con anima, moves effortlessly, dance-like and graceful.
It is truly a pity that this work has not become part of the repertoire, it has all of the necessary requisites to be successful. And while it is not a work for beginners, experienced amateur players will not find it beyond their abilities. Mostly out of print or quite difficult to obtain, we are pleased to make it available again and hope that it will win the friends it deserves