Friday, May 29, 2009

S.Q. Daily #15: Mozart No. 19, K.465

S.Q. Daily: A Composer's Listening Journal


Day #15: W0lfgang Amadeus Mozart
String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, K. 465, "Dissonance"


Diving right back into Mozart's Haydn Quartets, we'll look at No. 19/K. 465 ("Dissonance") today, which I'm hearing on Naxos, again courtesy of The Tak√°cs Quartet.

I absolutely love the 22-bar introduction from which the quartet gets its nickname. Okay, I really just love the opening 15 bars before the gravity of G Major (the dominant) starts to take over. The harmonic ambiguity and cross-relations in this tonal style are remarkable, even disregarding its early date of composition (1785).

The beginning:
Repeated C's in the cello. Viola Ab, then vn II Eb, completing an Ab first-inversion chord - pretty ambiguous. Then vn I enters on a high A just as the viola moves from Ab to G (the Ab-A cross-relation), forming an A half-diminished 6/5. On the next beat a D 4/2. The next downbeat: B-G-C#-A, a whole-tone cluster? Going to B-G-D-G, a G in first inversion. (The downbeat is really G Major with a suspension and a chromatic lower neighbor tone.)

And that's only the first three measures. Confused? I think that's the point. Just listen to the first 1.5 minutes or so on Youtube.

You can stick around for the rest (four movements total), which seems like pretty typical Mozart... meaning genius, of course. But that first little bit really gets me going.

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