The first performance of this work, commissioned by the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation in the Library of Congress to honor the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Library on Oct. 28, 1950, by the Hungarian String Quartet.
The work itself is in four movements, beginning with a “calm and relaxed” adagio
. The energetic second movement, allegro con fuoco
, is highly chromatic both melodically and harmonically. Movement three is another slower, lyrical movement of greater length and intensity than the first, and is followed by the presto of the finale, which is characterized by driving rhythmic force, skillfully interpolated from time to time with sustained chords and rests.
J. Kenneth Wilson