Movement 1: Moderato
Movement 2: Allegro molto capriccioso
Movement 3: Lento
The movements are very different in character, as genre pieces (or, as in early quartets, a partita) in structure, yet the first movement’s urgency, the demanding rhythmic complexity of the Scherzo and the easing of tension in the long, slow finale, combine to make a work from which one cannot take any one movement or conceive any alternative conclusion. Nor is the ending a ‘lament’ such as we might find in a work by one whose country was then a major combatant in a great war. Bartók’s Second Quartet is solely about music. His outrage at the war can be found in The Wooden Prince.
from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 1996