Movement 1: Animato
Movement 2: Andante
Movement 3: Allegro
The opening movement, Animato, begins energetically with a four-bar introduction leading to the first of several themes, two of which are dodecaphonic tone rows. However, as with his quarter-tones, Bloch had no intention of creating or following a ‘system’. In fact, he eschewed ‘serial’ composition, preferring, rather, to use all twelve semitones of the chromatic scale within a tonal/modal context. In this work he emphasized his individual approach by inserting into the first row two extra notes, a perfect fifth apart. Elsewhere, there are tritones in abundance, wide leaps alternating with scalic contours, motifs and harmonic progressions assembled in an ever-rising sequence, passages of gritty homophony juxtaposed with flowing polyphony, dissonances resolving into consonances, and an exploration of the entire dynamic range—tending, however, more to forte than to piano.
The slow movement, Andante, offers a further example of Bloch’s love of the mystical, the lyrical, and the pastoral. It is an air with variations, beginning in C sharp minor, replete with oscillating triplet figurations in the piano part, and mellifluous counterpoint in the strings. Shortly before the climax near the end of the movement there are two passages that are reminiscent of prominent motifs from Schelomo and the Suite hébraïque.
Following without a break is the finale, Allegro, characterized by its motoric drive. Much of the writing is similar to that of the first movement. However, after a series of cascading scales, the mood changes and the tempo broadens into the concluding Calmo section which brings the work to a close—pianissimo—in the key of E major.
from notes by Alexander Knapp © 2007