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String Quartet no. 1 in F minor (Félicien David)




Allegretto – Andante – Scherzo. Allegro – Allegretto leggiero 


Of Félicien David’s three complete string quartets, only the first one, composed in 1868, was published during his lifetime – which goes to show the limited popularity of a repertoire that was far removed from the “orientalism” that brought him such success. The work is dedicated to the music critic Alexis Azevedo, who wrote for L’Opinion nationale. From the very first bars of the quartet David clearly shows his debt to the Viennese tradition, that of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, rather than to the French “quatuor brillant” as practised by composers such as Rode and Baillot. Indeed, all the protagonists play an equal part in the work, rather the first violin being treated as the soloist, with the other three instruments as accompanists. Traditional in form, the opening Allegretto sets the general tone of the work, rather melancholy. There is no exoticism in the Andante, but rather a pastoral spirit, recalling the colours of a composer such as Dvořák. The mood is peaceful, despite a livelier middle section dominated by descending arpeggios. The Scherzo. Allegro manages to combine anxiety and vehemence with the playful character typical of this type of movement. The writing is lively, full of surprises and sudden breaks, but there is also a return to the afflicted mood of the opening movement. Finally, the Allegretto leggiero presents a folk-inspired first theme, supported by a cello drone, then a more lyrical second one, played only on the highest string, the chanterelle, of the first violin.

    Person - 1
  • DAVID, Félicien (1810-1876)
  • Theme - 1
  • Musique de chambre – Le quatuor à cordes au XIXe siècle
  • Study - 1
  • Dratwicki, Alexandre – Félicien David, from one genre to another