Alexander von Zemlinsky

String Quartet No. 4, Op. 25

    Description by James Leonard

    The String Quartet No. 4 of Alexander von Zemlinsky was composed in 1936 and dedicated to the memory of Zemlinsky's friend Alban Berg who had died on Christmas Eve 1935. Like Berg's Lyric Suite for string quartet, Zemlinsky's Fourth is a suite of six movements consisting of an alternation of fast and slow tempos. The opening Prelude is marked senza expressione and quotes the main theme of Zemlinsky's second quartet, the theme that is a musical symbol for Zemlinsky himself. The second movement is a brutal rondo Burlesque like the closing movement of Zemlinsky's Third. The third movement is the lyrical heart of the work, a brief but deeply emotional Adagietto. The fourth movement is called Intermezzo, but it is actually the pivotal dramatic moment in the quartet: after energetic and heroic striving, the music seems to expire in the upper air of the violins. The penultimate movement is a Theme and Variations subtitled Barcarole, a comforting and consoling interlude before the fury of the Finale-Doppelfuge (Finale-Double Fugue). Recalling the themes, rhythms, and particularly the frenzied energy of the Burlesque and the Intermezzo in its themes and their working out, the Finale takes the Fourth to a thrilling and terrifying conclusion.


    1. Präludium. Poco adagio
    2. Burleske. Vivace
    3. Adagietto. Adagio
    4. Intermezzo. Allegretto
    5. Thema mit Variationen
    6. Finale. Doppelfuge. Allegro molto, energico

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Chandos CHAN 10845
    2013 Naxos 8572813
    2011 Praga / Praga Digitals PRDDSD 250277
    2007 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4777358
    2002 Chandos 9772
    2001 Stradivarius 33564
    1999 Nimbus 5604
    1998 Praga 205107
    1996 Arabesque 6671
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 427421