Recorded on 02/04/2009, uploaded on 03/16/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
When the war engulfing the rest of the European continent came to the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany’s brutal hammer stroke in 1941, Sergei Prokofiev, along with many other artists, were evacuated away from the major cities and the Nazi’s ruthless advance. In August of that year, Prokofiev was taken to Nalchik, the capital city of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic in the North Caucasus, some nine hundred miles south of Moscow. Prokofiev inevitably was exposed to the folk music of Nalchik during his stay. Though he rarely turned to folk melodies for inspiration, Prokofiev did so at the behest of a government official when he composed his Second String Quartet in F major. Yet, despite the infusion of native music and the imitation of Middle Eastern and Caucasian sonorities, the quartet remains distinctly Prokofievian, and does not fail to lose the composer’s characteristic buoyancy or wit.
In three movements, the Second String Quartet spans less than half an hour. The Allegro sostenuto first movement features two animated themes making it blithe and jocular, despite the shadows that appear during its development section. The following Adagio is exotic and mesmerizing with the Middle Eastern influences of its opening theme, but turns more playful during its middle episode. Buoyant and jocular, the Finale provides a boisterous conclusion to the Quartet. Its energetic drive persists relentlessly through the movement, unaffected by the ominous clouds that attempt to overshadow its rowdy mood and serve as the only hint of the war that had driven Prokofiev to this exotic land. Joseph DuBose
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
Such expressive playing. I love it. And you know it's so human because you can hear someone breathing pretty close to a mic.
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