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In his harmony Janáček makes free use of chord progressions, scoffs at the

boundaries between key and mode, and remembers what he has learned from his

long observations of folk music. His brilliant and unique style is at its height in this

Second String Quartet.

His music conveys the disordered flow of his feverish passions. This is not a cold

and progressive development, even less an outpouring of sentimental melody;

the composer expresses his feelings through themes that are repeated identically,

superposed, or even hammered out. His aim is to extract the essence of the

emotion, to the point of exhaustion, suffocation and finally the break. But never

does Janáček renounce beauty. The demands for inner truth push his work towards

a form of expressionism that is gripping, harsh and ardent.

These two quartets are declarations: love of life, love of a woman. The intensity

of the feelings summoned here can only be expressed by extra-verbal means, in a

paroxysm of sound:

‘You know,’

wrote Janáček to Kamila

, ‘sometimes the feelings

are in themselves so strong that the notes concealed behind

them an escape.’