(featuring The Rasoumovsky Quartet, in Late-Seventies recordings : Simon Standage & Pauline Scott - violins ; Simon Whistler - viola ; and, Joanna Milholland - cello)
Juan Crisóstomo Jacobo Antonio de Arriaga y Balzola (1806-26) was a Spanish Basque composer. He was nicknamed "the Spanish Mozart" after he died, because, like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he was both a child prodigy and an accomplished composer who died young.
In September 1821, Arriaga went to Paris and was introduced to Cherubini, at that time one of the inspectors of the Paris Conservatoire. He was admitted to study counterpoint and fugue under Fetis and violin with Pierre Baillot. The works composed in this period, like the three string quartets, show his continuing strength of invention and artistry in counterpoint.
The Quartet No. 1 in D minor is in four movements. The Allegro develops a mournful theme to which a second, folk-inspired idea then responds. The Adagio is based on a long drawn-out phrase for first violin. In place of a scherzo, the third movement is a Menuet, whose trio features pizzicato chords with a guitar-like accompaniment. An adagio phrase which unexpectedly recurs before the conclusion acts as an introduction to the Allegretto finale.
Cuarteto para Cuerda No.1 :-
I Allegro ; II Adaigo con espressione ; III Menuetto (Allegro) ; IV Adaigo - Allegretto.
Quartet No. 2 in A major is formally the most traditional of the three. The atmosphere of the Allegro is one of great vitality, in which the four instruments converse together, the four parts being remarkably independent but well balanced. The Andante con variaciones takes the place of a slow movement, the last variation created by a pizzicato effect. The Menuetto is followed by a cadenza-like passage which is repeated in the final Allegro, after the exposition.
Cuarteto para Cuerda No.2 :-
I Allegro con brio ; II Andante (Tema y variaciones) ; III Menuetto (Scherzo) ; IV Andante ma non troppo - Allegro.
Quartet No. 3 in E flat major is the most technically developed of the three pieces. The opening unison in the Allegro is followed by a concertante interchange of motifs between the instruments, the development being marked by its expressive nature and shifts in tonality. The second movement is a Pastorale rather than an Adagio, whose different episodes feature various descriptive effects, for example the tremolo to suggest a storm. Arriaga then lifts his thematic writing to a high point in the final Presto agitato.
Cuarteto para Cuerda No.3 :-
I Allegro ; II Andantino (Pastorale) ; III Menuetto (Allegro) ; IV Presto agitato.
Records graded visually to RRPG grades (record/sleeve) VG+/EX-.