Janácek, Leoš (1854-1928)
Quartet n° 1 Kreutzer Sonata (1923)
Quartet n° 2 Intimate Letters (1928)
The String Quartet "Intimate Letters" is the second of Leoš Janácek's quartets and the composer's last work as well. He wrote it immediately after he had finished his opera "From the Death House" between January 29th and February 19th, 1928, only half a year before his sudden death. It is a spontaneous expression of his deep and passionate predilection for a much younger lady, Mrs. K. S. According to his letters to that lady he originally gave the quartet the title of "Love Letters", but eventually he changed it because he did not want "to deliver his feelings up to the discretion of stupid people".
The first movement describes the impression of the first meeting with Mrs. S.; the second concerns the summer events at Luhacovice Spa in Moravia, the third according to the composer is gay, but it melts into a vision "which resembles to your image"; the fourth is so to say "The fear for you - however it eventually sounds not as fear, but as longing and its fulfillment."
It is interesting that the emotional character of the quartet brought the composer involuntarily in connection with the ancient viola d'amour, for which he prescribed the usual viola part; but as a matter of fact the part is written for the normal viola. For the rest the musical content itself proves by the character of its themes and their development by the formal structure of the movements and their passionate expression, that the quartet is a sincere emotional confession of the most inner feelings of the 74 year-old composer.