Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Divertimento in D Major K.136 (1772)
At the age of 14, Mozart's journey to Italy prompted his first experience and attempt to write string quartet. Two years later, a second visit to Milan re-kindled his interest in writing for four-part strings. Shortly after returning to Salzburg, three pieces (K.136 - 138) were produced. They were entitled "Divertimenti" (however, not by Mozart himself), suggesting the entertainment nature of these pieces, as evident from the uncomplicated texture, freshness and vitality in the music.
Heitor Villa-lobos (1887-1959)
Quartet No.1 (1915)
Cantilena : Andante
Brincadeira : Allegro scherzando
Canto Lirico : Moderato
Canconeta : Andantino quasi allegretto
Melancolia : Lento
Saltando como um Saci : Allegro
The first quartet written by Villa-lobos is a succession of six alternately slow and fast movements.
Cantilena is a song, with melody played in the first violin, accompanied by imitative interventions in the other instruments.
Brincadeira is a contrupuntel treatment of a melody and its inversion accompanied by pizzicati in the viola and the cello. It gives an impression of a kind of Brazilian polka.
Canto Lirico is a solo for the viola with a counter-melody in the first violin which then takes over the principle theme, returning it to the viola at the end.
Canconeta has the song-like tune in the violins in the obstinate accompaniment in triplets of the cello.
Melancolia begins with the cello solo, continued in the first violin. After interrupted by a restless agitated middle section, the melody returns.
Saltando como um Saci (jumping like a jumping bean), inspired by the forms of the fugue, is cheerful and skipping.
Nikos Skalkottas (1904-1949)
Five Greek Dances (1938-1947)
Epirotikos : Moderato
Kretikos : Allegretto moderato
Tsamikos : Allegro moderato
Arkadikos : Moderato
Kleftikos : Allegro vivo
Skalkottas is a composer that is known to the world, sadly, posthumously. He was born in Greece and studied composition from Schoenberg in Berlin. In 1933, in the wave of Nazism, Skalkottas was forced to return to Athens, where he met with a lot of incomprehension. He isolated himself, composed feverishly and talked to all but a few people who appreciated contemporary music. His output remained unknown, unpublished, and unperformed until after his death.
The Greek Dances, originally composed for orchestra and later re-arranged for string quartet, are certainly not incomprehensible as one should immediately sense the strong flavour of folk music from various regions of Greece in these short but rich pieces.