String Quartet No. 3 (Piston)

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String Quartet No. 3 by Walter Piston is a chamber-music work composed in 1947.

History[edit]

Piston’s Third Quartet was commissioned by Harvard University and first performed by the Walden Quartet on May 1, 1947. It is dedicated to Diran Alexanian (Pollack 1982, 102).

Analysis[edit]

The quartet is in three movements:

  1. Allegro
  2. Lento
  3. Allegro

Both of the outer movements are in sonata-allegro form, and are in F minor. The central Lento movement is a calm theme and variations in C minor (Pollack 1982, 102–3). However, the first movement actually begins in A major/minor, only gradually settling into F minor at the end, and the variation movement spends a lot of its time in the parallel major (the dominant of F minor). However, Piston's characteristic flexibility of tonality and thickly chromatic harmony makes it simplest to omit key signatures (DeVoto 1988).

Discography[edit]

  • 1984. Walter Piston: String Quartet No. 3; String Quartet No. 4. Portland String Quartet. Sounds of New England LP recording. Northeastern Records NR 214. Boston, MA: Northeastern Records. Third Quartet reissued on Walter Piston: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 2; String Quartet No. 3. The Portland String Quartet (Stephen Kecskemethy and Ronald Lanz, violins; Julia Adams, viola; Paul Ross, cello). CD recording. Northeastern NR 9001 CD. Boston: Northeastern University, 1988.
  • 2010. Walter Piston: String Quartets Nos. 1, 3 and 5. Harlem Quartet. CD Recording. Naxos 8.559630 [Hong Kong]: Naxos Records.

References[edit]

  • DeVoto, Mark. 1988. Booklet notes for Walter Piston: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 2; String Quartet No. 3. The Portland String Quartet (Stephen Kecskemethy and Ronald Lanz, violins; Julia Adams, viola; Paul Ross, cello). CD recording. Northeastern NR 9001 CD. Boston: Northeastern University.
  • Pollack, Howard. 1982. Walter Piston. Studies in Musicology. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press. ISBN 0-8357-1280-X.