Forty-one years separate the second string quartets of these two composers, who were very different from each other. Béla Bartók’s personality was calculating, sometimes caustic, but also thoughtful and polite. He agonized over the impact of World War I in his native Hungary. Joly Braga Santos was warm, spontaneous and cheerfully absent-minded. Much of his career spanned the Estado Novo. In common, they both had an enormous passion for music, and these quartets allow us to identify more aspects that bring them together. They were composed when they were the same age – 36 and 34, respectively – and were looking for new creative directions. Dating from 1917, Bartók’s String Quartet No. 2 coincides with the period in which the musician was seeking a balance between the use of popular roots music and sophisticated, signature writing. It is a work that serves as a hinge between an already “disfigured” romanticism and a step forward in the exploration of new technical and stylistic solutions. The central movement, a Scherzo, shows experimentation that identifies with the modernist tendencies that were emerging at the time. Braga Santos’ String Quartet No. 2 was also written in a period of transition. He had just settled in Italy, where he stayed for four years, between 1957 and 1961. There he had contact with a musical avant-garde that led to its own evolution, starting with more chromaticism and dissonance. This work also features popular melodies reminiscent of Bartók. The influence of the Hungarian musician is noticeable in the last movement.
Braga Santos & Bartók
Joly Braga Santos String Quartet No. 2
B. Bartók String Quartet No. 2
José Pereira, Joana Dias violins
Santiago Medina viola
Hugo Estaca cello