Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897–1957) wrote a number of important chamber works (with and without piano) over a period of some 35 years. His First String Quartet, completed in 1923, premiered the following year; its subsequent performance at the Vienna Incorporated Society of Contemporary Music Festival in 1925 reinforced Korngold’s standing as a major contemporary figure. A decade passed before Korngold composed its successor, a work of relative harmonic clarity. Following a period devoted almost exclusively to writing film scores, he returned to abstract composition at the end of the Second World War. The works from this period include his Third String Quartet, which premiered in Los Angeles in 1946.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold wrote a significant body of chamber music (the Piano Trio and String Sextet are on Naxos 8.574008). His three String Quartets reflect differing periods of composition. The First marries impetuousness with enticing harmonies and rapt eloquence. The Second, which dates from 1933, is notable for its clarity, rhythmic impetus and melodic directness. The post-war Third is more relaxed, unexpectedly juxtaposing the archaic and modern with a joyful conclusion.