Tag Archives: Alexander Zemlinsky

🎻♫♪ – String Quartet no. 3 by Alexander Zemlinsky

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
89/501Title: String Quartet no. 3
Composer: Alexander Zemlinsky
Nationality: Austrian

You would have supposed that, by the time I was 89 entries into the classical music, I would have started to pick up some terminology that would have helped me discuss the pieces. Nope, barely a sausage – especially when it comes to pieces like this string quartet which, unlike a tone poem or an opera, I am unable to onto much unless I hear it multiple times and take notes like a proper review.

But I’m not a proper reviewer – just someone trying to expand some horizons.

In the world of classical music, there are few instrument groupings that seem to have inspired more works than the string quarter. So, Zemlinsky’s String Quartet No. 3 follows a long line of works – a number of which I have heard before. The thing that seems to set this apart from other earlier quartets that I have heard on the list was the use of dissonance.

I am so used to a string quartet flowing freely, whereas in this piece from 1924 the instruments have moments where they are at odds with each other. We don’t go completely off key, unlike what you start to see in pieces around this time, but there is a gentle hand guiding it to the edge of tonality (okay maybe I have picked up some words) before reigning them back in. On the whole this is not going to be a favourite piece as I tend to prefer the more flowing and tonal, but it was interesting to hear a halfway house.