THE EDITH ROBINSON QUARTET: EDITH ROBIN SON (1st Violin): GERTRUDE BARKER (2nd Violin); HILDA LINDSAY (Viola); KATHLEEN MOORHOUSE ('Cello)
THE MANCHESTER VOCAL SOCIETY, conducted by HAROLD DAWBER
ROBERT SCHUMANN was trained to be a lawyer, and his youth was almost gone before he was able to give his whole attention to music. His full devotion to music, when at last it came about, was the result of great talent for, and persistence in, piano-playing.
It is not surprising, then, that when he started composing in earnest, for some time he produced a large quantity of Piano music, and little else. In 1840 (at the age of thirty) he was married, and in the inspiration of the moment poured out a flood of song. Then lie tackled music on the bigger scales, producing, among other things, his first Symphony in 1841. The following year saw the appearance of his first Quartet for Strings. This work is in four separate Movements.
The FIRST MOVEMENT starts with an Introduction (At a steady pace, expressive), which is founded on the little flowing figure with which First Violin opens, immediately imitated by the other instruments. The Introduction ends with emphatic chords, and after a pause, the Movement proper (Quick) follows. This is almost entirely made out of the simple, extended tune with which it begins, and the little running phrase which is heard very soon afterwards.
The SECOND MOVEMENT starts with a Scherzo, whose playfulness is in accord with the literal meaning of its title-a Jest, though perhaps rather a mild one. There is great contrast in the Intermezzo which follows, whose whole character lies in a smooth melody in First Violin over sustained lower parts. After the Intermezzo the Scherzo is repeated.
In the THIRD MOVEMENT there are two main constituents. The first is the opening phrase, which starts low, soars high, and then sinks back half-way. The second (and chief) is the long, slow song which First Violin gives out after the three opening bars.
The FOURTH MOVEMENT ( Very quick) is a brilliant, spirited Finale, whose rapid course is practically uninterrupted except for a few moments, just before the end, in which the Composer seems to draw our attention to a spiritual under-current.