In eight days he composed this quartet in praise of woman and love, thus opposing
the moral sanction raised by Tolstoy himself against the adulterous woman in his
novel. In his works Janáček often shows compassion for women who are ridiculed
or humiliated. Here, to bring out the raw passions that are present in the novel he
uses the art of contrast and harmonic tension in gripping and anguished phrases.
Through the voice of each instrument, his writing follows closely the murmurs
and complaints, violence and terror experienced by the characters, thus creating
a wordless drama.
In its structure theStringQuartet,‘TheKreutzer Sonata’, follows thedifferent stages
in the drama of Tolstoy’s work. The first movement corresponds to the exposition
of the story; Janáček concentrates on depicting the heroine, pure and passionate,
dissatisfied with her married life. In the second movement she meets the young
violinist, the future seducer, an encounter that destabilises the melody and the
rhythm. The third movement portrays the crisis and contrasts the gentleness of
the woman’s love with the fury of her husband’s jealousy. Finally, in the fourth
movement the drama is brought to a tragic end; terrible agitated passages depict
the paroxysm of the woman’s suffering; she finds redemption in the peace of the
final melodic passage.