It is incredible to think this was written over 100 years ago. It is a fully atonal work; intricate in it’s detail and construction, sensitive and delicate, powerful and agitated. It has all the ingrediencies of a masterpiece, and yet he was only in his twenties when he wrote it. Each piece is very short, the entire work lasting only a few minutes. These are miniatures, not dissimilar to certain other works to emerge from the 2nd Viennese School, and they make you listen in a very different way, that is both innovative, visceral, and exciting.
So I expect you’re wondering where on earth I came up with this one?
It was in fact originally composed for clarinet and piano. And as the viola has a great affinity with the clarinet, being similar in range and timbre, and the way it blends with its piano accompaniment, it is just perfect as a viola quartet.
Regarding this arrangement: contrary to my usual method, I have kept the original solo line absolutely intact in the 1st part rather than introduce additional dialogue which would be both unnecessary and confusing. Hence, what was the piano part is now played by the other 3 players but with the considerable advantage of being able to moderate their sustained dynamic according to the expression, giving the music an additional perspective. They are equal partners throughout. 7 min. M/A