String Quartet No. 2 was premiered on January 26, 1882 at an Imperial Russian Musical Society concert in St. Petersburg. It was not published until 1887, after Borodin’s death at the age of 53. A lyrical, engaging, and melodically rich piece of music that captures the essence of Russian folk melodies, String Quartet No. 2 – II. Scherzo offers a unique opportunity for percussionists to perform 19th-century chamber music from one of “The Russian Five.” The rapid-paced introduction soon yields to a light waltz feel while additional themes are later introduced to provide plenty of space for expression and variation. The recapitulation and coda bring the movement home with a Grandioso section designed to take advantage of the ensemble’s instrumentation. The final phrase delicately fades away as the arrangement ends with a pleasing and familiar cadence.
Performers and audience members alike will walk away humming Borodin’s enchanting melodic themes. This percussion adaptation exploits the full range of harmonic expressive ability for each keyboard instrument. Additionally, the three battery percussion parts (Percussion 1, Percussion 2, and Timpani) reflect typical demands and performance expectations found in many orchestral excerpts.
With embedded contrast and ample opportunity for musical expression, this arrangement will challenge performers on many levels. The arrangement is explicitly designed to provide varying degrees of difficulty between parts, ideal for large school-based ensembles that are comprised of performers from various grade-levels. Each part is designed to actively contribute to the work’s harmonic and rhythmic texture. Every performing member will find themselves engaged and musically valued throughout.