|Instruments||2 violins, viola and cello|
Voces Intimae is Sibelius's final string quartet, and the only quartet he wrote in his mature period. The quartet was largely written in 1908-1909, between his third and fourth symphonies, although earlier sketches show that Sibelius had been working on some of the musical ideas for several years previously.
The title comes from a phrase "Voces Intimae" (intimate voices) pencilled above bars 21-22 in the third movement: three pianissimo E-major chords appearing from nowhere in an F-minor movement; a hushed moment of understated drama in the music.
Sibelius himself was exceptionally pleased with the quartet: "It turned out to be something wonderful" he wrote. "It is something that brings a smile to your lips at the hour of death". The range of textures and moods Sibelius conjures from the four players is extraordinary, almost orchestral at times.
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