String Quartet op. 26
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2 violins, viola and cello


The String Quartet was composed during the fall 2002. It has 5 movements and lasts 11mn 30. It was commissioned by Radio-France and is dedicated to the Castagneri Quartet, who created the work in January 2004.
Gold Medal of 35e Concours International de Composition de l’Académie de Lutèce.
Each movement is built with a particular writing and atmosphere. However, the unity of the piece is deeply thought, and the listener will find connections between the 1st and the last mvt, the 2nd and the 4th mvt. The 3rd mvt, central point of the piece, has a different writing.
In the 1st mvt, it is an energic and harmonic atmosphere which dominates. In fact, the first 3 chords are the ferment of the whole movement.
The 2nd mvt, slow and expressive, first proposes a melodic thema given in dialogue between the viola and the cello. It will be distributed at the recapitulation to the violin, in the low register, and to the cello in the high register. This thema is interspersed with a more harmonic and lively writing, involving all instrumentists.
The 3rd mvt offers a contrapuntal writing, developed as a four in two canon : fluidity of the 2 violins answering to the pizzicati of the viola and the cello. This four in two canon will be recapitulated by inversion with a new instrumental distribution.
The refinement of the sounds and the great expression of the Quartet dominates the 4th mvt. This one begins with a sad and slow thema given by the altist. This thema will be distributed in the coda to the cellist in harmonics sounds. This thema is surrounded with lively fragments, first of all horizontal, then in chords written with tremolos.
The final concludes the Quartet in a very fast rhythm taking again the harmonic colors of the 1st mvt, while developing them again. It is made of a crab canon by inversion. It demands from all instrumentists a very challenging virtuosity.


     Extract from the frist movement 2’16’’

     Extract from the second movement 2’09’’

     Extract from the third movement 2’

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(c) Florentine Mulsant, 2012