Igor Stravinsky

Concertino, for string quartet

    Description by James Leonard

    Stravinsky's Concertino for string quartet was the first of three versions of the piece. Composed in the summer of 1920 at Carantec and Garches, the work was suggested by Alfred Pochon, the leader of the Flonzaley Quartet. According to Stravinsky's Chronicles:

    "M. Pochon wished to introduce a contemporary work into their almost exclusively classical repertoire, and asked me to write them an ensemble piece, in form and length of my own choosing, to appear in the programs of their numerous tours. So it was for them that I composed my Concertino, a piece in one single movement, treated in the form of a free sonata allegro with a definitely concertante part for the first violin."

    Stravinsky's assertion that the Concertino is in "free sonata" form is accurate as far as it goes: the work does open with thematic material, which does return more or less intact later in the work. But the central section of the score is in a wholly different tempo, Andante, and is of a wholly different character than the outer sections, making the work seem more an ABA form than a sonata-allegro form. However, his claim that the work has "a definitely concertante part for the first violin" is thoroughly accurate. The central Andante section comes complete with a cadenza, and the Andante's return at the end of the work features an even more extended cadenza. Indeed, throughout the work, the first violin is treated as a solo instrument for which the other three instruments essentially provide an accompaniment.

    Thirty-two years later, Stravinsky himself seems to have realized the extent to which the concertante principal determined the form of the composition, and he rearranged the work for solo violin, joined occasionally by a solo cello, plus ten wind and brass instruments which take over the role of the ripieno. One of only three works for string quartet in Stravinsky's entire oeuvre, the Concertino is a significant representative of the composer's slender chamber output.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Orchid Classics ORC 100085
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 002894794261
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon B002398272
    2012 Telos TLS 134
    2012 Praga PRDDSD 350057
    2012 Onyx / Onyx Classics ONYX 4090
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908520
    2011 Naim 24
    2010 Onyx ONYX 4051
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 001660502
    2010 EMI Classics 965939
    2009 Warner Classics
    2008 EMI Classics 13974
    2008 EMI Music Distribution 5675502
    2008 Decca 4738102
    2006 Wigmore Hall Live 12
    2005 Rca Red Seal 64283
    2004 Summit Records 394
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 67551
    2000 Naxos 554315
    1997 Silva America 6014
    1996 Praga PR250 073
    1995 Conifer 51252
    EMI Music Distribution 54347
    Partridge 1138
    Panton Records 1305