At our May 12th Mother’s Day concert at Convocation Hall, the SSO String Quartet will be performing a Mozart quartet that has a unique connection to motherhood.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s String Quartet No. 15 in D minor, K. 421/417b is the second of the Quartets dedicated to Haydn and the only one of the set in a minor key. Though undated in the autograph, it is believed to have been completed in 1783, while his wife Constanze Mozart was in labour with her first child Raimund. Constanze stated that the rising string figures in the second movement corresponded to her cries from the other room.
“…we are probably right in assuming that it was the sudden forte of the two octave leaps and the following minor tenth (bars 31-32 of the andante), a brief uproar that quiets down, in a syncopated passage, to piano. These are figures that otherwise do not occur in Mozart.”
The first movement is characterized by a sharp contrast between the aperiodicity of the first subject group, characterized by Arnold Schoenberg as “prose-like,” and the “wholly periodic” second subject group. In the Andante and the Minuet, “normal expectations of phraseology are confounded.” The main part of the Minuet is in minuet sonata form, while “the contrasting major-mode Trio … is … almost embarrassingly lightweight on its own … [but] makes a wonderful foil to the darker character of the Minuet.” The last movement is a set of variations. The movement ends in a picardy third.
When we were planning our now Annual Mother’s Day concert, our Concertmaster Michael Swan immediately suggested this piece and its unique ties to motherhood!
Hear it live on May 12th at Convocation Hall, 2pm.