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Erwin [Ervin]  Schulhoff [Šulhov]

Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942)

Born: June 8, 1894, Prague
Died: August 18, 1942, Wülzburg (age 48)
Czech | Jewish | German
wikipedia

String Quartet No. 1

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
I. Presto con fuoco
II. Allegretto con moto e con malinconia grotesca
III. Allegro giocoso alla Slovacca
IV. Andante molto sostenuto
Composed: 1924 (age 29-30)
Duration: 17 minutes (approximately)
7 recordings, 25 videos
2:28
Janáček Quartet
I. Presto con fuoco
3:41
Janáček Quartet
II. Allegretto con moto e con malinconia grotesca
3:06
Janáček Quartet
III. Allegro giocoso alla Slovacca
6:12
Janáček Quartet
IV. Andante molto sostenuto
2:25
Alma Quartet Amsterdam
I. Presto con fuoco
4:15
Alma Quartet Amsterdam
II. Allegretto con moto e con malinconia grotesca
3:05
Alma Quartet Amsterdam
III. Allegro giocoso alla Slovacca
6:53
Alma Quartet Amsterdam
IV. Andante molto sostenuto
2:27
Cani, et. al.
I. Presto con fuoco
4:36
Cani, et. al.
II. Allegretto con moto e con malinconia grotesca
3:01
Cani, et. al.
III. Allegro giocoso alla Slovacca
7:17
Cani, et. al.
IV. Andante molto sostenuto
3:13
Kendel, Kendel, Seitz, Borth
I. Presto con fuoco
4:34
Kendel, Kendel, Seitz, Borth
II. Allegretto con moto e con malinconia grotesca
3:19
Kendel, Kendel, Seitz, Borth
III. Allegro giocoso alla Slovacca
7:11
Kendel, Kendel, Seitz, Borth
IV. Andante molto sostenuto
15:06
Kocian Quartet
2:20
Peterson Quartet
I. Presto con fuoco
4:17
Peterson Quartet
II. Allegretto con moto e con malinconia grotesca
2:58
Peterson Quartet
III. Allegro giocoso alla Slovacca
6:31
Peterson Quartet
IV. Andante molto sostenuto
2:26
Schulhoff Quartet
I. Presto con fuoco
3:23
Schulhoff Quartet
II. Allegretto con moto e con malinconia grotesca
3:10
Schulhoff Quartet
III. Allegro giocoso alla Slovacca
5:45
Schulhoff Quartet
IV. Andante molto sostenuto

Erwin Schulhoff

String Quartet No. 1, 1924

Erwin SchulhoffSchulhoff composed his String Quartet No. 1 in 1924 when he was 30. A relatively brief work at about sixteen minutes, it is colorful, unique work that strongly reflects Schulhoff’s Czech heritage as well as a heady mix of styles and trends “in the air” in the experimental mood of the 20’s between the two world wars. The opening Presto con fuoco is an amalgam of lively Czech dance and the motoric, muscular rhythms so prevalent in music of the time. The husky drive is especially reinforced by predominantly unison textures. The second movement is as curious as its title suggests: Allegretto con moto e con maliconia grotesca. Somewhat whimsical if not ironic, a kind of mock sentimentality features the lower voices – viola and cello – along with some wonderfully colorful sonorities through special effects including pizzicato, glissando and ponticello.

The third movement might well be considered the highlight of the quartet. Specifically marked “alla Slovacca”, this giocoso allegro merges the rhythmic drive of the first movement with a full battery of sonic effects for a truly exotic musical experience with folk dance at its vivacious core. After this, the finale comes as a surprise as mood, tempo and even style seem to radically change to a different side of Schulhoff’s musical imagination. Slow, ponderous, and full of unresolved (if understated) tension, the last movement surely reflects Schulhoff’s familiarity with the second Viennese school of Schoenberg and Webern. Late romantic and expressionistic elements create an eerie atmosphere in which the first violin implores with an emphatic recitative that dissolves into suspenseful ticking and then a cryptic hush.