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Iosif Andriasov String Quartet, Op. 1
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By: Marta Andriasova Email Article
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Iosif Andriasov composed his String Quartet for Two Violins, Viola, and Cello, Opus 1, in 1954, when he was 21 years old. The String Quartet is dedicated to Nelli Andriasova (Andriassian), the composer’s sister.

It was first performed by the students of the Music College at the Malyi Concert Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Moscow, USSR, in 1954. The sincere, lively, joyous, effervescent music of the String Quartet stirred such stormy applause by enthusiastic listeners that, according to witnesses, the balcony floor of the concert hall shook, and the personnel on duty ran from downstairs to the hall to see what was going on there.

The String Quartet of Mr. Andriasov was recorded and broadcast abroad by the Soviet Radio Station. It attracted attention toward the young promising gifted composer. Mr. Andriasov’s music was always warmly welcomed. The listeners admired it for its artistic temperament, emotional warmth, exuberant energy, expressive thematism, connection with folklore, clear-cut construction, and colorful harmonic language.

The American premiere of the String Quartet took place with Victor Romasevich (Lubotsky), Leonid Fleishaker - violins; Anatole Wieck (Wic) - viola, and Roger Lowe - cello, in July of 1979 (two months after Iosif Andriasov came to the United States), at a charitable concert in a Manhattan jail in New York, NY. The prisoners, guards, and other personnel were fascinated by Mr. Andriasov’s music, and gave the String Quartet a heartfelt reception.

The String Quartet is a "youthful" composition. Its "hero" is a young man who enters the world full of hopes. The music radiates with energy and happiness. There are pages of the dreamy, inspired lyricism, displaying the romantic nature of the composer; episodes with tragic notes, expressing deep compassion for people, revealing the altruistic essence of the composer’s personality, and genre scenes, based on folk dances.

I. Andriasov follows the traditions of Armenian folk and classical music (Soghomon "Gevorki" Soghomonyan (also known as Komitas Vardapet), Aram Khachaturian) as well as traditions of the Western-European and Russian classical composers, first of all, Ludwig van Beethoven, Nikolai RimskyKorsakov, Alexander Borodin (traditions of "Russian Orientalism") and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The String Quartet is filled with melodic intonations and rhythms from Armenian (Trans-Caucasian) folk songs and dances.

The connection with folk traditions is displayed through modal diversity (particularly, in the modes that include the interval of the augmented second); in ornamentation; in irregular rhythms; in the drones, and in a re-creation of the timbres of the Armenian folk instruments. An exquisite treatment of folk material connects Iosif Andriasov with S. Soghomonyan. The expressive, sharp harmonic language and adherence to the plagal function relates him to P. I. Tchaikovsky (in particular, P. I. Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony). The clear-cut structure of the String Quartet demonstrates how Iosif Andriasov mastered the traditions of the Viennese classics. Also, I hear a bit of jazz music in his use of harmonies. But, the individual voice of Iosif Andriasov is revealed through a peculiar fusion of tenderness and courageousness, - his distinctive feature; in his heartfelt compassion for people and simultaneously in an objective view of a situation from the outside; in his seriousness - and yet an irrepressible happiness, and in his vigorous temperament.

The String Quartet is in three movements.

In his String Quartet, Iosif Andriasov employs a principle of "reminiscence" to unite the cycle’s movements. It is known that the Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary music has rich traditions in this regard. Alexander Mikhailov, the Soviet musicologist, considers the Fifth Symphony by L. v. Beethoven the first example of reminiscence. There are other works that deal with this substantial principle: Symphonies by Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner, Jean Sibelius, Alexander Glazunov; the Piano Quartet by Sergei Taneev, "Serenade for Strings" by P. I. Tchaikovsky, "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste" by Bela Bartok, Symphony in C by Igor Stravinsky, some compositions by Nikolai Myaskovsky, Sergei Prokofiev, A. Khachaturian, and many others.

The String Quartet of Iosif Andriasov is marked by an exquisite treatment of folk material, a deep understanding of string instruments (I. Andriasov was a violinist), melodic richness, expressive harmonies, a well-balanced form with equilibrium of meditative and dancing episodes, and clear and transparent texture.

Duration: approximately 15 minutes

3 YouTube Recordings

Marta Andriasova (Marina Kudryashova) is an author, musicologist (member of the American Musicological Society), teacher, music producer, founder and owner of IMMA Publishing Co.

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