Langgaard: String Quartets, Vol. 3
25 November 2015
Grant Chu Covell
Volume 3 offers two larger quartets, No. 1 and No. 5. Both are darker, with more heightened Romantic harmonies, but lacking in extensive developments despite sincere attempts. The First’s brooding slow movement unleashes an astonishing tantrum. The Finale, Sostenuto, reflects Langgaard’s antiquated Romantic style. No. 5 has a later genesis, and was reworked after Langgaard’s anachronistic stylistic shift. A more mature quartet, its expressive Romanticism can darken abruptly, and its dissonance begrudgingly resolves. This is eccentric music, beautiful in parts, but not as extensively developed as might be expected from the maturity of the exposition.
Langgaard dashed off the Italian Scherzo in 30 minutes on the morning of October 21, 1950. It’s a two-minute limpid statement, impetuous and capricious, but the harmony no longer aligns with Classical forms. The Nightingales are perfect.