String Quartet No.8 in C major Op.66

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

Performance date: 29/06/2022

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1959

Duration: 00:14:52

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.8 in C major Op.66 [1959]

Adagio – Poco Andante – Adagio 

Allegretto – Allegro – Allegretto – Attacca

Doppio più lento – Andante

This Quartet dates from early 1959 and was premiered by the Borodin Quartet in November that year. It was for a long time the only Weinberg (then spelt Vainberg) Quartet played west of the Iron Curtain. Weinberg always regarded it as a personal honour to be one of the composers whose music this Quartet especially enjoyed playing. It is sad to think the Borodin will not be playing on European stages for the foreseeable future.

This powerful Quartet is cast in one continuous movement with two clear sections and an extended coda and is one of the shortest Quartets in the Series lasting just longer than a quarter hour. It opens with a solemn deep-throated Adagio that soon gives way to a flowing, four-in-a-bar Poco Andante, where the first violin’s melody is accompanied pizzicato. Gradually the music becomes more intense and the harmonies more unsettled rising to a ferocious climax. When this finally calms down, Weinberg allows a free reprise of the opening Adagio which quite beautifully slowly disintegrates, making way the initially light-hearted Allegretto. Weinberg has this knack for commencing a movement with an idea verging on the trivial but ending up somewhere completely different as here when a Scherzo-like Allegro comes bursting in with a blaze of fiery pizzicatos. This builds impressively and wildly to a big climax before collapsing with exhausted quotes from the previous themes leading very softly into the coda where all ideas are blended, recombined and ultimately reconciled. 

Francis Humphrys