I. After a wild introduction, the movement erupts into a rush of activity, with the emphasis on the frenetic solos of the viola. After a brief reminder of the opening, the movement ends with a frenzied toccata.
II. Adagio features long, flowing lines, and gentle counterpoint. There is rarely any sense of accompaniment from any of the instruments, with the viola functioning as a “1st among equals.” The movement is a very loose rondo, but the form is quite free, even meandering.
III. Teaching Piece introduces a very different kind of procedure from the rest of the work. In this movement, the viola introduces a motive or idea and “teaches” it to the next instrument, who picks it up and fashions the idea to make it their own. As the soloist introduces more and more ideas, they are gradually subsumed into the texture. Only occasionally does the soloist emerge to guide the ensemble to the next idea. After briefly losing the initiative in a violent shift of texture, the soloist reemerges as the teacher.
IV. The fourth movement is attacca from Teaching Piece. This somewhat ironically titled movement, Aria semplice, crashes between a simple, folksy motive and a series of highly charged dramatic gestures. The bulk of the movement consists of an immense cadenza. Even when the ensemble is playing, the viola is usually in a completely different sonic world. The movement ends as it began, with a long clarinet tone.
Klang is the German word for “sound.”