Sergey Prokofiev

String Quartet No. 2 in F major ("Kabardinian"), Op. 92

    Description by Robert Cummings

    The parenthetical subtitle here, "Kabardinian," refers to the origin of the themes in this quartet. Prokofiev rarely used folk or other unoriginal thematic material in his works. This F major Quartet was an exception. In 1941 the composer, along with Myaskovsky and other artists, was sent away from Moscow -- towards which Hitler's troops advanced -- to the safer haven of Nalchik, capital city of the Kabarda-Balkar Republic, situated in the Northern Caucasus. There he was exposed to, and ultimately fascinated by, the folk music of that region.

    While experienced listeners will hear the folk-flavor in the themes of this quartet (especially in the second movement), they will at once recognize the music as pure Prokofiev. The tenor of the work is light, from the rhythmic gusto of the first movement to the chipper prance of the finale. The opening panel, marked Allegro sostenuto, features two colorful themes, both lively and rhythmic, the second of the pair more genial and catchy. While the development section works up considerable tension and conflict, the music in general remains light and playful.

    The second movement Adagio begins with an exotic melody which has a Middle-Eastern air about its quivering accompaniment. A playful theme that skips about to an array of rhythmic effects forms the delightful middle section. The opening theme is reprised and the music ends quietly. The finale, marked Allegro, presents a catchy rhythmic theme and an alternate exotic melody, whose accompaniment features colorful prickly jabs. The middle section is largely comprised of a sustained emotional outburst whose cries are the only sounds in the work that even vaguely hint at war or suffering. The main material returns in reverse order and the works ends happily.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro sostenuto
    2. Adagio
    3. Allegro

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795982
    2016 CAvi-music AVI 8553160
    2015 Alto 6006
    2014 Delphian DCD 34081
    2014 Cedille Records BOX 1003
    2013 Dynamic CDS 726
    2012 Cedille Records CDR 90000130
    2010 Supraphon 39572
    2010 Cobra Music / Cobra Records 31
    2007 Melodiya 1000980
    2006 New Classical Adventure 9508812
    2006 Gallante 1024
    2006 Nimbus 5762
    2006 Arte Nova 654270
    2002 Praga 250174
    1999 Chandos 8929
    1999 Delos 3247
    1997 Testament 1123
    1995 Naxos 553136
    1994 Testament SBT1052
    1992 Deutsche Grammophon 431772
    Denon Records 7814
    Ciompi Quartet
    Hyperion CDH55032
    Disques Pierre Verany 791112
    Collins Records 1189
    SNE 587
    Nonesuch 79048