On the banks of the Neva
Abdel-Hamid El Shwekh
String Quartet No 2 in D major
Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quartet in F major op. 18 No 1
Alexander Borodin's Quartet No. 2, with its heady romanticism, was the talk of the town bandstand and the café-concerts of the early 20th century. Its four movements have an undeniable melodic charm, from the generous opening theme through the waltz-like scherzo, the andante, a Notturno (Nocturne) with a heady oriental mood, and a fluttering virtuoso finale.
Still influenced by Mozart and Haydn, Beethoven's String Quartet in F major, Op. 18 No. 1 (in fact the second to be composed) is imbued with a serious and grave spirit that is lightened in its final movement. Beethoven introduces in this quartet a pathos quite new to this kind of work, especially in the adagio, which is supposed to be inspired by the tomb scene from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
Composed in 1799, this quartet closes a world by opening the door to the new century, which will see the emergence of one of the most expressive and refined forms of Western music.