Overview of Movement 1 (LARGO)
This Largo is an important introduction to the string quartet. It is similar to prelude in character with a presentation of a number of musical ideas which have an important bearing on the rest of the work.
- No conventional formal pattern
- ABA Fluid Ternary
- An Incomplete Arch
- Key of C Minor
- Never looses sight of this underlying tonality
- Free use of incidental dissonances and false relations
- DSCH/ Other allusions to his own and inspirational composers
Section A - A1 (First 14 bars)
A1 - The movement starts with a fugato style texture with Shostakovich's personal signature of DSCH (2317) being entered canonically in order of cello to first violin:
Cello - C minor - TONIC ...Viola - G minor - DOMINANT ...Violin 2 - C minor - TONIC ...Violin 1 - F Minor - SUB-DOMINANT
- Canonical motif entries are more stretto texture as they don't follow through.
- This is ironic as you normally finish a fugue with a stretto not start one (BARS 0-8)
- Ambiguous tonality with all the motif entries covering all 12 semitones notes apart from Db which is sounded in bar 7 by the cello where it clashes with neighbouring notes C and D.
- DSCH Motif is from his 10th symphony, the year Stalin died.
- False Relations (bars 5-6) Bb and B
- Harmonic Flow mostly of 7ths, 9ths, 6/4 suspensions, passing notes & neighbouring notes (diatonic + chromatic)
End of A1 bar 11; the cello has another DSCH motif however cannot finish it as it goes below it's range but it is resolved by the second violin on a B and modulates unexpectedly into Eminor at figure 1.
General - very sombre mood, dark and quiet. Clashes cause tension and forebode the darkness and seriousness (or perhaps not!) the rest of the work.