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Journeys in Folk and Form

Solem Quartet

Florence Price’s Five Folksongs in Counterpoint features five well-loved African-American spirituals (‘Calvary’, ‘Clementine’, ‘Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes’, ‘Shortnin’ Bread’ and ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’) but treats them using the Western Classical style. Like Price, Bartók had a desire to include the folk idiom of his native Hungary in his work; in the First Quartet from 1908, the composer shows the beginnings of this folk language which he would go on to record and interpret for the rest of his life, but sets it within a Late Romantic musical language. Bartók’s quartet begins with a slow fugue, an idea probably borrowed from Beethoven’s opus 131, an extraordinary work spanning seven movements – indeed a work which, as part of the so-called ‘Late Quartets’, redefined the string quartet genre.

Florence Price – Five Folksongs in Counterpoint
Bela Bartók – String Quartet no. 1
Ludwig van Beethoven – Quartet in C sharp minor, op. 131
Further proposals
The Art of Fugue
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