I have long adored the string quartet .
“For the string player the quartet it is the purest compositional form”
according to my dear friend Jonathan Evans Jones who has been a violinist since the age of ten and is still very active professionally.
Last week we enjoyed on of our semi-regular phone catchups. He always ends our conversations by asking if I want for any listening recommendations or have questions. I mentioned how I enjoyed the Škampa Quartet playing Beethoven and Borodin Live from the Wigmore earlier in the week. Adding, with my usual gaucheness, an observation, that within the quartet a tune gets passed around from player to player.
Jonathan agreed, He spoke of answering the of phrases adding that this form of composition provides for “a classic distribution of voices” - two violins, are the upper voices, viola the middle range and cello providing the bass.
A good example being Mozart’s String Quartet No. 21 in D major (known as the Prussian No1).
In the quartet listening is as important as playing, to really attend on voice that has gone immediately before.
There is so much to explore in this genre. Hyden, Beethoven, Mozart have all contributed so much. Latterly Debussy, Revel, Janacek, closer to home Messer’s Tippet and Britten. To explore more modern works head over to the website Classical Music Only for a wide-ranging list of suggestions.https://classicalmusiconly.com/lists/works/chamber-music/string-quartet/century/20
In preparing the piece I discovered the wonderful Enso Quartet. A US East Coast quartet that have several recordings out on Naxos. Well worth checking out too. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ensō_String_Quartet