STRING SEXTET, Op.10
Movements and duration
I. Allegro, ma un poco a capriccio – Tempo giusto
II. Scherzo-blues: Allegro con fuoco
III. Andantino innocente
IV. Finale: Allegro vivo
Total duration: ca. 24:40 min
2 Violins, 2 violas, 2 violoncellos
About this work
This four-movement sextet features the composer’s trademark blend of classical structures with 20th century musical aesthetics, combining high and low art indistinctly.
The first movement is laid out in sonata form, and features music of a generally assertive and forceful character. There’s a very strong rhythmic element that many times ivolves pervasive syncopations and irregular groupings, making barlines almost meaningless. After the severity of the opening, there are occasional moments of comic relief, with the final coda actually ending on a very humorous note.
The second movement (Scherzo-blues) is laid out in ternary “A-B-A” form. The “A” section is in turn in binary form with repeats, with each half following a 8-bar blues and a 12-bar blues respectively. While the “A” section is forceful, jazzy and full of swing, the “B” section is overtly sentimental, with diatonic melodies and rather straightforward rhythms. The reprise of the “A” section is a bit shortened, and the movement ends like the first one, i.e. with a humorous coda.
The third movement is laid out in a vague ternary form. It starts as a carefree waltz, but it becomes darker as the music progresses, leading up to a phantasmagorical central section with muted strings. After a short absurdist episode, the waltz theme is restated, but this time with pizzicato glissandi added for a comic effect. This movement uses bitonality in a slightly more insistent manner, especially in the transitions between the main sections and in the coda. The last chord is borrowed from Jacob Collier’s ideas on harmony.
The last movement is in sonata form. In this movement, the comical element that appeared sporadically in the previous movements finally triumphs, with playful, bluesy melodies and ragtime rhythms appearing almost throughout. In this movement, the “severe” side is in minority, appearing in the secondary theme but being defeated every time. The movement concludes with a busy, climactic coda that draws the whole piece to a frenetic close.