In some pieces, this second movement would be termed a rondo. In this work, however, it’s definitely more of an episodic movement. There is an A section, reflecting the gentle movement of the train and the houses flashing past, which develops and becomes more complex as the scenes change outside. In between, there are short episodes representing various snapshots of the journey. I believe I went into detail about what the scenes were in the past, but I’m not going to list them here – the idea being that the listener can decide for themselves.
This movement was perhaps the trickiest of the three to recreate for string quartet. The repeating, developing section in particular wasn’t going to translate well from piano to string quartet, and needed a different approach. In order to make it work, I dismantled it into its constituent parts, and picked and chose which to employ where, taking care to ensure that it still developed as the piece continued and that the key developmental elements in each subsequent A section were still in place. The beginning became very simple – a bass note held by cello and viola with a melody line on both violins.
Each episode was also a challenge! As they are short and one-time ideas (in this movement at least), it was important to have accompaniment that didn’t introduce too many new elements, and worked with the material already introduced. Rearranging, then, involved ensuring nothing new was introduced – and in some cases I actually removed material. The first episode required some re-voicing of chords, alongside careful balance of the quartet. The second potentially works more effectively for quartet; the accompaniment grows, which seems more organic from the strings than it did when performed by a piano. There was also a chance for some nice conversation between the clarinet and cello, which complements the growing accompaniment perfectly.
The third episode was undoubtedly the most fun to rearrange. It’s the most orchestral, relating back to the first movement, and I had some fun adding to the parts in ways that wouldn’t have been possible on the piano. The same can be said of the final ‘A’ section as the movement comes to a peak.
1) The introduction – the first A section, and the beginning of the first episode
2) The third episode
Two down, one more to share!