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String Quartet no. 3 in D minor (Félicien David)




Allegro moderato – Adagio – Scherzo (allegretto) – Finale (largo – allegro leggierro)


Dedicated to Térence Hadot, one of  Félicien David’s Saint-Simonian friends, the String Quartet no. 3 in D minor was composed in 1868-69. Like his other three works in the genre, it remained in manuscript form. The four quartets were written at the end of David’s life, when he had retired to a villa in Saint-Germain-en-Laye and no longer composed operas. The whole of the Third Quartet is marked by a great desire for expressiveness. In the opening Allegro moderato, the two themes (in D minor and F major) circulate between the instruments. The changing timbres create colour contrasts and lend great vivacity to the movement, which is further energised by the repeated notes in the accompaniment. The Adagio in B flat major opens with the statement of an eminently lyrical theme, followed by an extremely agitated modulating section. At length, the theme returns on the cello and the double bass, with a contrapuntal melody from the violin. In D minor, the Scherzo is lighter in character. Rapid changes in articulation and playing modes (staccato, pizzicato, with mute, etc.) lend great plasticity to the timbre of the string quartet. In the finale with its folk accents (drones, repeats, sudden interruptions of the discourse), the thematic material again passes quickly from one instrument to another. With its long cantabile phrases and its dramatic outbursts, the cello in particular is showcased here.

    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