‏‏String Quartet no 2 in D major – Alexander Borodin‏

by richibi

 "Russian Music" - James Ensor

Russian Music (1881)

James Ensor


Alexander Borodin’s ravishing String
Quartet no 2 in D major
, from 1881,
was written only a few years after
Smetana’s 1876 From My Life“, and
sounds surprisingly similar, the same
number of movements all in the same
order, fast, a dance step, polka or
waltz, then slow, then fast

their second movements are notably
united by their common use of long
bowing of paired notes from the
violins, to establish, irresistibly,
the rhythm of their individual dances

their eccentric, even strident notes,
stretching towards atonality but
remaining this side of the divide,
thus surprisingly welcome, even

the change of tempo right in the
middle of every movement to
separate and sharpen contrast
between the exposition and the
development, then the whole
thing all over again, all quirks
of the evolution of the
nevertheless stalwart string
quartet structure, as unassailable,
it would appear, as that of the,
also inveterate, sonnet

I could go on

the difference is in the intention,
the appropriation of the Viennese
model to express more culturally
expanded varietals of the original
mode, in these two cases, Czech
and Russian, it’s all in each their
homegrown cadence

and that’s how music speaks if
you lend an ear

think of the European Pinot Noir,
for instance, taking root in other,
foreign soil not being necessarily
any longer inferior, sometimes
even superior, downright even
celebrated, you’ll get, essentially,
the big picture

Alexander Borodin’s ravishing
String Quartet no 2 in D major,
note, is such a prize, an utterly
intoxicating wine you wouldn’t
want to eschew, miss