String Quartet No.13 Op.118

Composer: Mieczyslaw Weinberg (b. 1919 - d. 1996)
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Composer: Mieczyslaw Weinberg (b. 1919 - d. 1996)

Performance date: 02/07/2022

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1977

Duration: 00:13:08

Recording Engineer: Simon Cullen, Ergodos

Instrumentation: 2vn, va, vc

Instrumentation Category:String Quartet

Artists: Quatuor Danel (Marc Danel, Gilles Millet [violins], Vlad Bogdanas [viola], Yovan Markovitch [cello] - [quartet]

Mieczysław Weinberg [1919-1996]

String Quartet No.13 Op.118 [1977]

In one movement 

After the strange inwardness of the Twelfth Quartet, Weinberg stepped away from Quartets to write four operas in succession, beginning with his second intense anti-war work The Madonna and the Soldier followed by three comic operas including one based on a pot-boiler by G.B. Shaw called Passion, Poison and Petrification.

Weinberg’s great friend and mentor, Dmitri Shostakovich, died in August 1975. Weinberg decided that nothing less than a massive four-movement, traditional non-programmatic, full orchestral symphony of fifty minutes would do to honour his friend. This became his Twelfth Symphony. His Thirteenth Quartet is surely also a more intimate, less public memorial.

This brief Quartet is in a single movement whose design suggests sections representing a first movement, scherzo, slow movement and finale. The boundaries are blurred by repeated reappearances of the sad theme that opens the first section. This lovely sinuous idea is passed between the first violin and cello until the spiky quasi-scherzo begins its repeated notes incantation. The slow section begins with a unison declamation marked grand detaché (a special marking he uses in many of his late works to indicate long, separated notes) leading to a powerful viola solo punctuated by funeral march chords. The sad opening theme comes back and a typical pizzicato tread emerges and the music seems to be holding its breath and gathering its strength for the terrible cry of loss and pain that closes the Quartet.
Francis Humphrys