original piano transcription of Franz Schubert’s ‘Quartettsatz’ (String Quartet No.12) in C minor D 703
composition date: 1820
transcription date: 2012 (July 04 – 07)
complete piano transcription (piano solo arrangement) of the single movement
YouTube channel (embedded links below)
I discovered this one-movement quartet by chance through a YouTube video; I remember it was the name “Quartettsatz” that first caught my attention.
‘Quartettsatz’ simply means “quartet movement”. It is a one-movement string quartet, or the first movement of an unfinished quartet, that is counted as No.12 in Schubert’s works catalog.
It is a stormy and lyrical work at the same time, full of dynamic contrasts. The choice of C minor makes me think that Schubert was once again chasing Beethoven’s shadow, but then he wasn’t satisfied with the result and didn’t complete the quartet. The only completed first movement however is so wholesome that it can stand alone without any problem. Modern composers, me included, wouldn’t hesitate to mark “complete” a work like this. If Beethoven was for Schubert a giant to admire and pursue, what should be said of us, for whom Schubert is another, unattainable giant?
I soon wanted to transcribe this piece but I was stuck after taking a look at the score: how was I supposed to transcribe the two middle lines (violin II and viola) of the theme that first appears in A flat, at once for the piano? After brooding on some time a solution ‘clicked’ in my head: who said I had to use all those notes? I could simply take half from one and carry on with the second half of the other one (or viceversa), making it one accompaniment line, fairly natural for the piano to boot. I tried it and it worked even better than I had imaged.
The other challenges of course were the clusters of rapidly repeated notes, so prominent in Schubert’s quartets, but I already had a solution for those; I just had to fine tune the dynamic contrasts effectively.