Walter Piston was a leading light among those mid-twentieth century American composers who opted to explore the more traditional musical forms and languages - he took the neo-Classical mode of expression and infusied it into larger Romantic forms. The quartet is a restless work that strives to deeper expression that its predecessor. The first movement, an Allegro preceded by a Lento introduction, is full of unsettling and uncanny effects, including the icy sounds of bowing over the fingerboard. It uses a motive consisting of a half-step from a minor third that can be heard as an expression of ambiguity as to whether the mode is minor or major - a core debate in American blues and Anglo-American folk musics. The second movement is an intense slow movement. The finale, another fast movement, uses dissonant counterpoint and uncertain, shifting rhythms.
This is the Schirmer Edition of the Study Score.