After the success of the First String Quartet at Kodály’s first public concert as a composer, on 17 March 1910, he wrote his String Quartet No 2, Op 10, between 1916 and 1918, a period when hostilities cut him off from fieldwork. The piece was dedicated to the Waldbauer-Kerpely Quartet who had premiered its predecessor as well as giving the first Hungarian performance of the Debussy Quartet that had been its model. Debussy’s influence can still be heard within the pentatonic harmonies of the Second Quartet, though they take on even more magyar tones. Introspective at first, the opening Allegro contrasts quickfire dissonance with more elegiac passages. Again the music has a discursive quality, though a freer modality now reigns. Dance rhythms quietly try to assert themselves within the Andante, though they are stymied by more yearning tones. Finally that energy is unleashed with a pizzicato jolt at the beginning of the final movement and a helter-skelter exchange of thematic material. After a moment of unearthly pause, complete with destabilizing glissandos, Kodály ends with a wild coda.
from notes by Gavin Plumley © 2014