String Quartet No.1 in B minor Op.50

Composer: Sergei Prokofiev (b. 1891 - d. 1953)
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Composer: Sergei Prokofiev (b. 1891 - d. 1953)

Performance date: 08/07/2017

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1930

Duration: 00:24:35

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation Category:String Quartet

Artists: Skellig Quartet (Brendan Garde, David McElroy [violins], Anthony Mulholland [viola], Cormac O Bhriain [cello]) - [quartet]
Behn Quartet (Kate Oswin, Alicia Berendse [violins], Lydia Abell [viola], Ghislaine McMullin [cello]) - [quartet]
Beara Quartet (Siobhan Doyle, Jane Hackett [violins], David Kenny [viola], Eugene Lamy Alves [cello]) - [quartet]

May 1918 Prokofiev, fearing that the chaotic state of revolutionary
Russia would have little use for new music, left Petrograd for the
USA. He remained there for four years before returning to Europe,
where he remained until 1936, when he was persuaded to return to
Soviet Russia. Like Shostakovich he was a virtuoso pianist and he
made his living as a pianist as well as a composer. In 1929 he had
made a disastrous trip to Russia, where his music was denounced and
his latest ballet refused a staging. The next year he undertook an
extensive tour of North America, during which he accepted the
commission for this quartet from the Library of Congress. Much of the
work was written on his extended train journeys across the States. It
was premiered in Washington the following year.

quartet opens with a leaping, dancing theme, whose contagious energy
dominates the first movement. There is a more severe second subject
that acts as a foil to the wildness of the dance. A short slow
introduction precedes the spectacular

Scherzo vivace,
unleashes some virtuoso displays from the first violin. The Finale is
an extended
remarkable piece of

lyrical invention. The composer Nikolai Myaskovsky was full of praise
for this movement:
of all, the composition is completely free of effects, something
quite surprising for Prokofiev. Secondly there is true profundity in
the sweeping melodic line and intensity of the Finale. This movement
strikes deep.
a mournfully lyrical beginning the movement builds up to an
impassioned climax on a distinctly Slavic theme before collapsing
shockingly against a wailing ostinato as the movement winds down
tortuously to a desolate coda. His biographer Daniel Jaffé writes:
or not, this is Prokofiev’s most eloquent expression of despair at
being disowned by his own homeland.