Hyperion Records

String Quartet in E minor, Op 83
composer
begun summer 1918, completed Christmas Eve the same year; first public performance given by Albert Sammons, WH Reed, Raymond Jeremy and Felix Salmond at Wigmore Hall on 21 May 1919

Recordings
'Elgar: String Quartet; Bridge: Idylls; Walton: String Quartet' (CDH55218)
Elgar: String Quartet; Bridge: Idylls; Walton: String Quartet
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55218  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Elgar: Piano Quintet & String Quartet' (CDA67857)
Elgar: Piano Quintet & String Quartet
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67857 
Details
Movement 1: Allegro moderato
Movement 2: Piacevole (poco andante)
Track 2 on CDA67857 [9'57]
Track 2 on CDH55218 [9'32] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Movement 3: Allegro molto
Track 3 on CDA67857 [8'55]
Track 3 on CDH55218 [9'59] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

String Quartet in E minor, Op 83
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The mood of the String Quartet in E minor Op 83 is wry, the sharp rhythmic gestures at odds with the hollow, irresolute harmonies. The first movement is intricate, with subtle internal cross-references. The tonality is fluid. The first two bars are in E minor but rise to a D natural, giving a modal flavour. Elgar often avoids root-position chords, and relates keys by minor thirds rather than by more conventional fifths. The second subject sounds smooth and lyrical but its rhythm turns out to be an expansion of the jerky first subject. When it is developed the viola has it between soaring violin and plunging cello. Recapitulated, it becomes sad and inarticulate, broken by rests. It is extraordinary that this highly strung music should flow so spontaneously. There is a coming to terms with life here, an experienced but undogmatic voice.

The second movement sounds artless. Piacevole, Elgar directed it—‘agreeable, pleasant’. Elgar’s wife likened it to ‘captured sunshine’: perhaps the long spells of drowsy repetitions against pedal points made her think of the ‘sound of bees and insects on a hot summer’s afternoon’. But there are also stabs of pain, and the sound, though sweet, is thin, often in only three parts, sprinkled with harmonics and finally muted. This sunshine is fitful and autumnal.

Lady Elgar wrote that the finale is ‘most fiery & sweeps along like Galloping of Squadrons’. The thrust and resolution of the opening justify that description, as does the breadth of the ending. The second subject allows some relaxation, but a phrase from it is then vigorously propelled, so bringing together the motoric power of the first subject and the lyricism of the second.

from notes by Diana McVeagh © 2011

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDH55218 track 3
Allegro molto
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-94-71803
Duration
9'59
Recording date
17 December 1993
Recording venue
St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Gary Cole
Recording engineer
Gary Cole
Hyperion usage
  1. Elgar: String Quartet; Bridge: Idylls; Walton: String Quartet (CDA66718)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: July 1994
    Deletion date: September 2005
    Superseded by CDH55218
  2. Elgar: String Quartet; Bridge: Idylls; Walton: String Quartet (CDH55218)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: July 2006
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
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