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The Classical Explorer

Wolf's Quartet

Hänssler 93.024

Hugo Wolf

String Quartet in D minor
Italian Serenade

Fine arts Quartet
Hänssler Classic CD93.024

The String Quartet in D minor (1878-1884) is subtitled "Entbehren sollst du, sollst entbehren" – "Thou shalt forego, shalt do without," a quote from Goethe's Faust.

In spite of terrible emotional problems, Hugo Wolf managed to be a prolific and significant composer, best known for his many lieder, and his often-heard delightful Italian Serenade.

The far less popular String Quartet, however, is well-worth careful audition, especially if you are emotionally touched by the late Beethoven String Quartets. Wolf's strange rhythms and abrupt key-center shifts are more readily understood in the context of those Beethoven works.

The score I referred to while listening, from an out-of-print Dover Publications book (Seven String Quartets: 0-486-26891-8), gives the second and third movements in reverse order, but Wolf switched them later (and more appropriately). The Third Movement, Langsam, is the emotional center of this work, and can stand by itself as a passionate outpouring of deepest feelings.

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[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus -

Parts available from Merton Music ]