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<<  -- 2 --  Peter Dickinson    STYLE-MODULATION


We'd better start, chronologically, with the Rochberg [listen -- track 10, 0:00-1:57]. This is how the first movement, Introduction: Fantasia, begins -- in the world of 1960s Penderecki -- but a melodic passage intervenes, which soon becomes tenderly lyrical and then leads to diatonic harmony.

The styles chosen by Rochberg rarely interact as quickly as that. Sometimes he continues for minutes at a time, or even a whole movement, in borrowed clothes. You even wonder if the wavelengths have got crossed. The second movement is one of two Marches with links to Bartók, but the central movement of the five is close to late Beethoven -- the purest A major [listen -- track 12, 0:00-0:46].

Rochberg says that theme is his own and it's followed by an extended set of variations which goes through many of the variation routines of the first Viennese School advancing stylistically no further than Brahms. The situation is comparable to the third movement of Ives' Fourth Symphony -- the fugue in an earlier style -- but for different reasons.

George Rochberg
George Rochberg

Rochberg's finale, which he calls an alternation between scherzos and serenades, introduces another borrowed style, this time Mahler in rapturous D major starting just over two minutes into the movement. In spite of the fast scherzo passages the Mahlerian style remains an obsession. It's hard to say what Rochberg does with this style -- he obviously exults in it -- since there's so much of it and it's so close to the originals. The ending hardly feels like a summing up in spite of references back to the start of the first movement. So here's some of his take on Mahler -- a Rochberg Wunderhorn perhaps [listen -- track 14, 2:05-2:56]?

The Kreutzer Quartet is totally committed to the piece and this performance is superb advocacy. Incidentally, they play the last two movements and the variations quicker than the Concord Quartet did.

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Copyright © 18 August 2002 Peter Dickinson, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, UK


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