Gyula Beliczay, String Quartet in g minor, Op. 21

May 1, 2018

"A pleasing work," so wrote Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music of Gyula Beliczay's String Quartet No.1 in g minor, which dates from 1878. It begins with a substantial, somber Adagio introduction. The main part of the first movement is a turbulent Allegro moderato. The second movement, an elegant Intermezzo, allegro grazioso, is at times stately, at others lyrical and wistful. Next comes a deeply felt Adagio interrupted by a contrasting, march-like middle section. The finale is an energetic Allegro risoluto.

Gyula Beliczay (1835-1893), sometimes known as Julius in German and English speaking countries, was born in the Hungarian town of Révkomárom (now in Slovakia on the Danubian border between Hungary and Slovakia). He studied engineering and music in Pressburg and Vienna. He pursued a dual career serving as chief engineer in the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of Communications. He studied music at the same time he took his engineering degree, piano with Carl Czerny and composition with Martin Nottebohm. His piano playing was admired by Liszt and Anton Rubinstein and his compositions were highly praised by contemporaries and performed all over Europe and even as far away as New York. He also was a sought after conductor and composition teacher and after retiring from his government position, he served as director of the Budapest Academy of Music between 1888 and 1892. His music shows the influence of Schubert, Mendelssohn and Schumann but also of the Hungarian composers Mihaly Mosonyi and Ferenc Erkel. He wrote in most genres and numbers three string quartets, a piano trio, this nonet and several instrumental sonatas among his compositions.

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Gabriel Fauré, Piano Quartet No. 2 in g minor, Op. 45

October 27, 2017

Gabriel FauréGabriel Fauré (1845-1924) was born in the village of Pamiers, Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées. At an early age he was sent to study at the famous École Niedermeyer, a Parisian school which prepared church organists and choir directors. He studied with several prominent French musicians, including Charles Lefèvre and Camille Saint-Saëns. For most of his life, Fauré worked as a church organist and teacher. Among his students were Maurice Ravel and Nadia Boulanger. He was a founder of the the Société Nationale de Musique and eventually became director of the Paris Conservatory. In retrospect, he has come to be regarded as a transitional and unique figure in French music. His lifetime and works spanned the period of the mid Romantic right up to the modern post-WWI developments of Stravinsky. He and his music were well-known during his lifetime and several of his works are still popular today such as his Requiem, the opera Pénélope, the music for Pelléas et Mélisande and the Dolly Suite. He wrote a considerable amount of chamber music; including two piano quartets, two piano quintets, two cello sonatas, two violin sonatas, a string quartet, and a piano trio.

Faure’s Second Piano Quartet was completed in 1887. It is his only major work that experiments with cyclic form, an approach that was quite popular in France thanks to the influence of César Franck and Franz Liszt. The first movement, Allegro molto moderato, opens with a long and flowing unison string melody. The viola introduces the secondary theme, which is closely related to the first subject. The second movement, Allegro molto, begins in turbulent fashion with a breathless, syncopated theme in the piano. What appears to be a lyrical contrasting theme in the strings is another version of material from the beginning of the first movement; at the same time it is related to the scale passage of the scherzo theme. Fauré wrote that the third movement, Adagio non troppo, grew out of his memories of the sounds of bells heard years before in the garden of his family’s home in Cadirac. The finale, Allegro molto, is full of energy, passion, and turbulence. Its theme of surging triplets has a relentless forward drive. Later, contrasting ideas recall themes originally heard in the scherzo and the first movement.

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Carl Nielsen, Little Suite for Strings (Nonet), Op.1

Carl Nielsen Carl Nielsen's Little Suite for Strings began life as a string quintet for 2 violins, viola, cello and bass. His teacher and mentor Niels Gade, when shown the score with its density of the writing, suggested that it would be more effective for a larger ensemble such as an octet or nonet. Nielsen reworked the quintet and added divided parts for the four upper voices so that it became a nonet. The changes made were surprisingly minor and the Suite can still be played by a string quintet although without the fullness of sound of the second version. It was completed and published in 1888 as his Op.1, although he had already published a number of other works by this time. Nielsen's publisher, no doubt with an eye toward sales, insisted on the title Little Suite for Strings and not Nonet. An unfortunate result of this is that today we often hear it performed by the full string sections of symphony orchestras, for which it was never intended, rather than a string nonet or small chamber orchestra.

The Suite begins in a serious vein with a dark and moody Praeludium. The graceful middle movement, Intermezzo, is full of good humor. It commences with a lilting waltz and then is followed by a more energetic dance section which has a vague Viennese quality to it. The finale begins with a short restatement of the gloomy Praeludium but soon the music takes wing, rushing into a high flying Allegro con brio of exciting exuberance. Though momentarily, a few storm clouds appear, the music sweeps forward to a triumphant conclusion.

Nielsen was born on the island of Fyn (Funen) and eventually entered the Royal Danish Conservatory in Copenhagen where he studied violin and composition with the famous composer Niels Gade. He himself became Denmark's leading composer during the first part of the 20th century.

We offer this work as a nonet--2 Violins I, 2 Violins II, 2 Violas, 2 Cellos and Bass. Additional parts can be ordered.

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Mykola Lysenko, String Quartet in d minor

Mykola Lysenko Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912) (sometimes transliterated as Nikolai or Nicolai Lysenko or Lissenko) is considered the father of Ukrainian chamber music much the way that Glinka is for the Russians. He was the first Ukrainian composer to write chamber music. In 1904, he founded the first music conservatory in the Ukraine in Kiev, which today bears his name. Lysenko was born in the Poltava district of the Ukraine. He first studied piano with his mother, then formally with teachers in Kiev. After taking a degree in the natural sciences at the University of Kiev, he attended the world famous Leipzig Conservatory where he studied composition with Carl Reinecke.

An admirer of the Ukrainian poet Shevchenko, Lysenko became a nationalist for the Ukrainian cause as a student. He remained one for his entire life and was imprisoned for the cause as late as 1907 after composing a song in support of the Revolution of 1905. The bulk of Lysenko's music is for piano or for voice in one form or another such as opera, hymns, or chorales. His piano music often shows the influence of Chopin whereas his vocal music is almost always based on Ukrainian folk music such as his opera Taras Bulba. Lysenko spent considerable time trying to demonstrate the differences between Ukrainian and Russian folk melody. The only chamber music he is known to have composed is this string quartet and a string trio.

The quartet dates from 1868 when Lysenko was finishing his studies with Reinecke in Leipzig. The big, opening movement, Allegro non tanto, begins in a rather dramatic, somewhat operatic fashion. The themes bear some resemblance to those of Glinka's opera Ruslan and Ludmilla. Despite the movement's length, the drama and forward motion are almost never relaxed. The simple but charming melody of the following Adagio is in the form of a chorale. The manuscript only has three movements and it is not known whether there was a fourth movement or whether the third movement was meant as the finale. It is an engaging Minuetto, allegretto scherzando.

A collected edition of Lysenko's works, including this quartet, was published in 70 volumes between 1950 and 1959, however, a performance edition of the parts and score were never separately published. Our World Premiere Edition has been carefully edited and corrected by Loren Silvertrust from a copy of the original manuscript located in Kiev, Ukraine. Like all of our works, it is printed on top grade paper with an ornate cover and biographical information about the composer.

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Mykola Lysenko, String Trio in A Minor

Mykola Lysenko Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912) (sometimes transliterated as Nikolai or Nicolai Lysenko or Lissenko) is considered the father of Ukrainian chamber music much the way that Glinka is for the Russians. He was the first Ukrainian composer to write chamber music. In 1904, he founded the first music conservatory in the Ukraine in Kiev, which today bears his name. Lysenko was born in the Poltava district of the Ukraine. He first studied piano with his mother, then formally with teachers in Kiev. After taking a degree in the natural sciences at the University of Kiev, he attended the world famous Leipzig Conservatory where he studied composition with Carl Reinecke.

An admirer of the Ukrainian poet Shevchenko, Lysenko became a nationalist for the Ukrainian cause as a student. He remained one for his entire life and was imprisoned for the cause as late as 1907 after composing a song in support of the Revolution of 1905. The bulk of Lysenko's music is for piano or for voice in one form or another such as opera, hymns, or chorales. His piano music often shows the influence of Chopin whereas his vocal music is almost always based on Ukrainian folk music such as his opera Taras Bulba. Lysenko spent considerable time trying to demonstrate the differences between Ukrainian and Russian folk melody. The only chamber music he is known to have composed is this string trio and a string quartet.

The String Trio dates from 1869 just as Lysenko finished his studies with Reinecke in Leipzig but before he returned to Kyiv. Unlike the string quartet which he composed the year before, he completed this work which probably served as his graduation piece. The big, opening movement begins with a slow, sad, Andante introduction which leads to the main section, an energetic Allegro animato which is not lyricism found in the second theme. The second movement, Romanze, is a very romantic, approaching lovely salon style music. Next comes a nervous, fleet Scherzo, allegro assai vivace. A contrasting slower section marked dolente e tranquillo makes a fine contrast. Interestingly, the jovial Finale, Allegro giusto, brings a sense of triumph.

A collected edition of Lysenko's works, including this trio, was published in 70 volumes between 1950 and 1959, however, a performance edition of the parts and score were never separately published. Our World Premiere Edition has been carefully edited and corrected by Garik Hayrapetyan and Raymond Silvertrust from a copy of the score which can be found in the collected edition. In addition, we have created a cello part in lieu of the second violin so that this fine work can be played by a standard string trio.

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George Onslow, Wind Quintet in F Major, Op.81

George Onslow Perhaps no composer, more than George Onslow (1784-1853), illustrates the fickleness of fame. Onslow was born and lived his entire life in France, the son of an English father and French mother. His chamber music, during his own lifetime and up to the end of the 19th century, was held in the highest regard, particularly in Germany, Austria and England where he was regularly placed in the front rank of composers. His work was admired by both Beethoven and Schubert, while Schumann, perhaps the foremost music critic during the first part of the 19th century, regarded Onslow’s chamber music on a par with that of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. Mendelssohn was also of this opinion. However, after the First World War, his music, along with that of so many other fine composers, fell into oblivion and up until 1984, the bicentennial of his birth, he remained virtually unknown.

One is almost a little surprised that Onslow, a pianist and cellist, would write a wind quintet and quite a good one. But one should remember that Onslow's teacher was Anton Reicha, the man who virtually invented the modern wind quintet. The Quintet, written in 1850 at a time when Onslow was 66, shows a youthful playfulness. The opening Allegro non troppo begins with a formal introduction. The charming main theme is presented in a very plastic fashion. The second movement is a light and playful Scherzo. The melody is cleverly passed from voice to voice. The lazy trio section provides good contrast. The Oboe solo which begins the following Larghetto strikes a somber note. There is a certain Handel-like quality to this formal music. The finale, Allegro spirituoso. is a lively rondo.

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Dame Ethel Smyth, Sonata for Violin & Piano in a minor, Op.7

Ethel Smyth Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) overcame the constraints of her middle-class English background by open rebellion. Taught piano and theory as ladylike accomplishments, she became so concentrated in her studies that her family deemed them unsuitably intense, and stopped her lessons. The teenaged Ethel went on a protracted and progressively more severe strike, finally confining herself to her room and refusing to attend meals, church, or social functions unless her father would send her to Leipzig to study composition. After two years the embattled Mr. Smyth gave in, and Ethel went to Leipzig where she studied with Heinrich von Herzogenberg and got to know Brahms, whom she admired greatly, Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Reinecke and many other important musicians. Back in England, she obtained recognition mostly for her public works such as her Mass in D and her opera The Wreckers. Eventually she was raised to the rank of Dame, not only for her musical work but also for her political activities; she was one of Britain's leading suffragettes during the first part of the 20th century.

Her Violin Sonata dates from 1887 and was dedicated to Elizabeth Lili Wach, Mendelssohn's daughter. Under the influence of Brahms and Herzogenberg, Smyth eschewed writing a work to show off the performer's technique. Instead she produced a profound work which is about tonal color. It is in four movements. Of particular interest is the third movement Romanze which makes reference to Francesca di Rimini who in Dante's Divine Comedy was consigned to the second circle of hell for lustfulness. This is a very worthwhile sonata which is a valuable addition to the Brahms sonatas and should have entered the repertoire. But no doubt, because it was written by an Englishwoman, it was unjustly ignored. Violinists should certainly avail themselves of the chance to play this sonata.

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Max Bruch - Double Concerto in e minor, Op.88

Max Bruch Max Bruch (1838-1920) is a fairly well-known composer. He enjoyed a long career as a conductor, teacher and composer. His works for violin and orchestra are still part of the repertoire that is often performed.Bruch composed his Double Concerto in e minor, Op.88 in 1911. It was written for his son Max Felix Bruch, a first rate clarinetist and Willy Hess, a leading soloist on both the violin and viola. Hess was a close personal friend of the composer. Hess and Max Felix premiered the work both in 1911 with orchestras in Wilhelmshaven and then in 1912 in Berlin off of manuscript copies

The Double Concerto is an intimate conversation between two instruments. Tunefully rich and opulently romantic in style, it quotes several melodies drawn from earlier works, in particular his orchestral Suite No.2 'Nordland'. The Double Concerto was originally scored for clarinet, viola and orchestra. However, at Hess' suggestion, Bruch provided a violin part in lieu of the clarinet. Bruch regularly made the practice of adapting his large scale works as chamber music. And this he did with the Double Concerto, providing a piano reduction so that the work could be played as a trio either for clarinet, viola and piano or violin, viola and piano. It is performed as chamber equally if not more often as a chamber music work than as a work for solos instruments and orchestra.The concerto’s form is unusual, in that it begins with a relatively slow movement, Andante con moto, featuring cascading arpeggios. The most dramatic passages appear at the in the first movement as the viola and then the clarinet introduce themselves. Bruch meant this to echo the structure of the cello and violin entrances in Brahms’ Double Concerto. The second movement, Allegro moderato, is somewhat faster but not terribly fast. The finale is a vigorous triplet-powered Allegro molto.

This is an outstanding work which is sure to make a very strong impression in the concert hall. We warmly recommend it to trio groups looking for an outstanding work.

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Adalbert Gyrowetz, String Quartet in D Major, Op.13 No.1

Adalbert Gyrowetz To paraphrase Bruce Lamott, Adalbert Gyrowetz (1763-1850) was the "Zelig" of music history. Like the lead character of Woody Allen's movie Zelig, Gyrowetz was everywhere and knew everyone worth knowing. He was born in the Bohemian town Budweis, then part of the Austrian Habsburg empire and today known as Budějovice in the Czech Republic. He is sometimes, though not often, known by the Czech form of his name Vojtěch Jírovec. He studied violin and voice with his father, a choirmaster. Gyrowetz traveled throughout Europe, residing for periods in Vienna, Paris, London, Rome, Naples and several other major European cities. Among his friends and acquaintances were Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Goethe and Napoleon to name but a few. His style closely resembles that of Haydn and several of his symphonies were published under Haydn's name by unscrupulous publishers trying to make an extra buck. Mozart thought enough of Gyrowetz's symphonies to perform several of them at concerts in Vienna. Gyrowetz, like most of his contemporaries, was a prolific composer writing some 400 works, among them 60 symphonies, and hundreds of chamber works including approximately 60 string quartets. While today, he has been forgotten and his music consigned to oblivion, this was not always the case. A close friend of both Haydn and Beethoven--he was a pallbearer at Ludwig's funeral--his music was held in respect and frequently performed on the same programs with theirs throughout Europe and even in North America.

The String Quartet in D Major, Op.13 No.1 is the first of a set of three dating from 1796. Like several of his contemporaries such as Boccherini and Pleyel, his works were quite popular in his day and were published by different publishers in different countries and were often given different opus numbers. For example, the opus 13 quartets were originally published by the famous firm of Artaria in Vienna as his Op.13. However, when Pleyel published them in Paris, he gave them the opus number of 25. Several other firms in England and Germany also got into the act, no doubt is because of the excellence of the works. This in and of itself is an indication of the high regard in which they held.

The opening movement marked Allegro begins with a rather pretty, genial Haydnesque tune. However, not long thereafter, a section reminiscent of a Mozartean opera overture takes over. The two are interspersed with great expertise. Each of the voices are given a chance to shine. The second movement is actually two movements in one. It begins and ends with a dreamy Larghetto after which a lyrical but somewhat operatic section leads to a lively Allegretto. The Larghetto then reappears to end the movement. The finale, Allegretto, has a march-like quality because of its rhythm and the way it is accented. A smoother section follows before the march reappears at a faster tempo adding considerable excitement.

This quartet is not only historically important because it sheds light on what other then important composers were doing at the time in Vienna (Beethoven had yet to write a quartet, Haydn was writing his Op.74) but also because it is pleasing to play and hear. And this set of quartets is especially noteworthy in that many elements found here appear shortly thereafter in Beethoven's Op.18 quartets. Surely this is no accident and something for which Gyrowetz has not been given the credit he deserves. We have reprinted the Pleyel edition and though it is nothing like a modern edition it is quite readable. We are often asked why we do not just make a modern edition of deserving works, and certainly, this is one. The answer in a word is cost. It is very expensive to do this and where the older edition is readable, we feel it serves both the revival of the music as well as the pocketbooks of musicians to make the older edition available.

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Franciszek Lessel, Piano Trio in E Major, Op.5

Franciszek Lessel Franciszek Lessel's Piano Trio in E Major dates from 1807. Based on a letter of recommendation from Haydn, Breitkopf and Härtel agreed to publish the work. It was dedicated to his lover Cecilia Beydale, the illegitimate daughter of Princess Izabela Czartoryska. Although Cecilia had agreed to marry Lessel, her parents put a stop to it due to their difference in birth and Lessel's poor financial condition. The opening Allegro brillante begins with a powerful series of upward scales before the introduction of the lyrical and elegant main theme, characterized by its forward motion as well as several triplet episodes. The second movement, Reve Adagio, as the title suggests, is soft, dream-like and valedictory. The violin brings forth a delicate melody in aria like fashion to the pizzicato in the cello and soft chords in the piano. This goes on for some time but when it finally ends, the cello joins in to make a kind of lovers duet. The third movement is a very classical Allegro di molto full of nervous energy. Polish dance tunes and even a tarantella episode. Haydn had just reason to be proud of his student's trio, a highly effective work full of drama and excitement.

Franciszek Lessel (1780-1838) was born in the Polish city of Warsaw. His first music lessons were with his father, a prominent pianist and composer. In 1799 he went to Vienna where he studied with Haydn for a decade after which he returned to Warsaw pursuing a career as a pianist and composer. Along with Josef Elsner and Ignacy Dobrzynski, Lessel is considered one of the most important Polish composers of the classical era.

This is trio not only historically important because it is one of a very few by a Polish composer from the classical era but on its own strength. It is a work deserving of concert performance and can be recommended to amateurs as well. We have reprinted the original Breitkopf edition, working from a very clean copy. The music is quite readable, but it is a 220 year edition and cannot be compared in any way to a modern edition. Our reduced price reflects this fact.

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Joseph Eybler, String Quintet in B flat Major, Op.6 No.1

Joseph Eybler

"I the undersigned hereby testify that I have found the bearer, Mr. Joseph Eybler, a worthy pupil of his famous master Albrechtsberger, a thorough composer, equally skilled in chamber and church styles, very experienced in compositional technique, as well as an excellent organ and piano player—in short a young musician such has regrettably has few peers."

So wrote Mozart in a letter of recommendation for his good friend and student, Joseph Eybler (1765-1846). And Eybler’s reputation and prominence in Vienna were such that the Empress made him Music Master to the Imperial Family in 1801 and in 1804 he was promoted to Vice-Kapellmeister, a position he held until 1824, at which time he succeeded Salieri as Imperial Kapellmeister. He held this post until his death. He was, like most of his contemporaries a prolific composer in most genres.

He wrote several string quartets and at least six string quintets. Eybler tended to view his quintets in the typical 18th century Austrian tradition as serenades. Unlike his quartets, which strictly follow the classical Viennese prescription set down by Haydn of 4 movements, the quintets usually feature at least five and sometimes more movements. The string quintet, Op.6 No.1 was originally published in 1801 and was for the peculiar instrumentation of Violin, 2 Violas, Cello & Bass. The standard ensemble had 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello. Eybler substitutes a bass for the second violin which reveals his fondness for the overall deeper sound produced by an ensemble of one soprano voice, two altos, a tenor and a bass. His concertante treatment of the parts allowed him to give both violas as well as the cello, and not just the violin, long soloistic passages. The considerable and noteworthy prominence given to the lower voices endows the music with an extraordinary depth of sound which has drawn the attention of critics in recent years and has led to the reprint of this and another quintet.

Although it is in six movements, the quintet is not the massive work one might expect. Eybler does not burst the borders of chamber music and writes to scale. The charming opening theme to the Allegro moderato, based on a turn is very Mozartian in flavor. A Menuetto with two trios comes next. The difficult melodic material of first trio is given over to Viola I. The second trio, a polacca, presents a challenge for the cello to the accompaniment of the violas and bass whilst the violin is tacit. In the lovely Andantino which follows, Eybler dispenses with his concertante style to create a finely crafted piece of integrated harmonic writing. The listener knows he is in the realm of the serenade as the opening notes to a second Menuetto (allegretto) are sounded. It is a canon. Again, there are two trios. The entire first trio features the second viola with a beautiful singing solo which is not at all hard to play. At last, in the second trio, the Violin is given a chance to shine, but not without the help of the first viola. It is in the following Adagio that the Violin is treated as the leading actor, the lover beneath the window sill of his beloved. Long sostenuto melodies are woven seamlessly together leading attacca to the superb concluding Allegretto which is a set of variations on this typical Austrian folk dance

Our edition is based on the 1801 original by Johann Traeg. Until now it has only been possible to play the quintet with Violin, 2 Violas, Cello & Bass. Nowadays, this combination almost never is assembled. Therefore, we have provided a second violin part in lieu of the second viola so that this wonderful music can now be enjoyed during an evening of quintets, say by Onslow, Dvořák and others, which are for string quartet and bass.

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Michael Haydn, Divertimento in C Major MH 27

Michael Haydn Michael Haydn (1737-1805) was the younger brother of Joseph Haydn. Michael received the same musical training as his brother in Vienna and eventually settled in Salzburg where he obtained the position of music director. Like most composers of the time, he wrote a lot of music but none of it seemed to get the attention of that which Joseph’s received. He wrote over 500 works and gave as many as one hundred and fifty titles as such as Notturno or Divertimento.

Most of his works were not published during his lifetime but circulated in copies made from his manuscripts. The oldest known copy of the manuscript of the Divertimento in C Major, MH 27 can be found in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. Scholars are not sure when the work was composed. The earliest estimate is around 1760 which seems unlikely. Others put it around 1790. The style is that of the Mannheim School of Stamitz which suggests a date in the 1770s or early 1780s. On the other hand, it is in four movements Allegro moderato, Adagio, Menuetto and Finale, presto, rather than three which was favored by the Mannheim composers.

What is particularly interesting is that the manuscript shows the work can be played by violin, viola and cello or violin and 2 cellos, or violin cello and bass. Note, there are three separate cello parts that are different for each of the combinations. Our new edition is based the copy in the Bavarian State Library. It is a charming work not at all difficult.

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Peter Hänsel, String Quintet No.1 in G Major, Op.9

Peter Hänsel

Peter Hänsel's String Quintet No.1 in G Major, Op.9 dates from 1803. The first movement, Allegro maestoso, starts off in a Mozartian vein. The music is genial, relaxed and upbeat. The second movement, Adagio e cantabile makes a strong impression with its deeply felt themes. Given that he studied with Haydn, it is hardly surprising that one hears echoes of that master. The third movement is a playful Haydnesque Menuetto, typically Viennese, The lively finale, a toe tapping Allegro, again recalls Haydn.


Guide to the String Quartet Literature

Peter Hänsel (1770-1831) (sometimes spelled Haensel) was born in the town Leppe in what was then Prussian Silesia. He was trained as a violinist and worked in Warsaw and St. Petersburg before obtaining employment in Vienna where he studied composition with Haydn during the 1790’s. Other than two years he spent in Paris during 1802-1803, his entire life was spent in Vienna, working as a violinist and composer. He devoted himself almost exclusively to the genre of chamber music, writing nearly 60 string quartets, 6 string trios, 5 string quintets and works for several other small ensembles. His style remained firmly rooted in the classical era and is closely related to that of his teacher Haydn but he also introduced French and Polish elements into his works, the result of his sojourning in those lands.

We have reprinted a clean copy of the first edition. Haydn wrote no string quintets and this is just the sort of things he may well have penned. It can be recommended to both amateurs and professionals.

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Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Five Fantasy Pieces for String Quartet, Op.5

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was born in London, the product of a mixed race marriage, his father, a doctor, being an African from Sierra Leone and his mother a white Englishwoman. His father returned to Africa when he was a small boy and he was brought up by his mother in Croydon. His musical talent showed itself early and he was admitted to study the violin at the Royal College of Music where he eventually concentrated on composition when his gifts were ascertained. His teacher was the renowned composer, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. He and his compositions gained considerable fame during his lifetime. His oratorio Hiawatha's Wedding Feast for a time became as popular as Handel's Messiah and Mendelssohn's Elijah. He made several visits to the United States because of his interest in American Negro cultural life. His fame was such that on one visit he was invited to the White House by Theodore Roosevelt.

The Fantasy Pieces or Fantasiestücke, to use the German name first coined by Schumann, were composed in 1898, several years before the famous Cobbett Fantasy Competitions. The tradition of fantasy pieces was well-established by the time Coleridge-Taylor came to compose his. They would consist of a set of character pieces, each of a different mood and type. The opening piece, aptly titled Prelude begins in a restless somewhat agitated fashion but it is immediately replaced by a calmer subject. The rest of the movement is taken with an interplay between the two. The Serenade which follows is quite lyrical with each phrase elided seamlessly in to the following one. Next comes a scherzo, Humoresque, which seems to have a vague Bohemian aura to it. A stately and elegant Minuet with its diffident trio section serves as the fourth piece. The themes of the exciting finale, Dance, are loosely related to those of the opening Prelude.

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Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Five Negro Melodies for Piano Trio, Op.59 No.1

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Coleridge-Taylor's Five Negro Melodies for Piano Trio, which date from 1906, are taken from his Twenty-Four NegroMelodies , for piano, which was the result of one of his many trips to the United States. He selected five of his favorites and, in the same year set them for piano trio. Four of the five are Negro spirituals, the fourth is from a southeast African song. The melodies are entitled Sometimes I feel like a motherless child set as a Larghetto, I was way down a yonder, set as an Andante, Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel? set as a Moderato, They will not lend me a child, also an Andante and lastly, My Lord delivered Daniel, an Allegro. Booker T. Washington was so impressed, he wrote the following introduction to the work: "Using some of the native songs of Africa and the West Indies that came into being in America during the slavery regime, Coleridge-Taylor has in handling these melodies preserved their distinctive traits and individuality, at the same time giving them an art form fully imbued with their essential spirit."

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was born in London, the product of a mixed race marriage, his father, a doctor, being an African from Sierra Leone and his mother a white Englishwoman. His father returned to Africa when he was a small boy and he was brought up by his mother in Croydon. His musical talent showed itself early and he was admitted to study the violin at the Royal College of Music where he eventually concentrated on composition when his gifts were ascertained. His teacher was the renowned composer, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. He and his compositions gained considerable fame during his lifetime. His oratorio Hiawatha's Wedding Feast for a time became as popular as Handel's Messiah and Mendelssohn's Elijah. He made several visits to the United States because of his interest in American Negro cultural life. His fame was such that on one visit he was invited to the White House by Theodore Roosevelt.

The Five Negro Melodies when they first appeared where each sold as separate works and never published together as a whole, no doubt to increase profits for the publisher. Nonetheless, Coleridge-Taylor regard them as a unified work and we have for the first time published all five melodies as one work. The work is beautifully set and deserves to be heard in concert and will also be highly attractive to amateur players. Long out of print, we are pleased to make it available once again.

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Constantin von Sternberg, Piano Trio No.3 in C Major, Op.104

Constantin von Sternberg Constantin von Sternberg (1852-1924) was born in the then Russian capital St. Petersburg of ethnic German parents. He was given piano lessons locally but then at the age of 13 entered the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied piano and composition with Ignaz Moscheles, Moritz Hauptmann, and Carl Reinecke. After two years, he left and as a mere 16 year old obtained conducting positions in various organizations in Leipzig and Wurzburg. In 1871, he moved to Berlin and took further piano lessons from Theodor Kullack after which he embarked on several concert tours taking him throughout Europe, Asia and the United States where he settled in the early 1880s eventually becoming an American citizen. He became director of the College of Music in Atlanta and then in 1890 founded the Sternberg School of Music in Philadelphia.

His Piano Trio No.3 in C Major was published in 1912. The opening movement, Allegro con spirito, appeals by virtue of the dance-like elegance of its fetching thematic material. The middle movement, Andante-Tema con variazione, is full of charm and even includes an Austrian Ländler as one of the variations. The finale, marked Rondo umore (with humor) features all three instruments jousting for the melody and finally coming together for a rousing finish.

This is a highly appealing work which will charm audiences in the concert hall and can be warmly recommended to amateur players as it presents no technical difficulties.

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Sergei Yuferov, Piano Trio in c minor, Op.52

Sergei Yuferov

Sergei Yuferov (1865-1927) (variously spelled Youferov, Youferoff etc. Some sources list his birth as 1856) was born in the Russian city of Odessa to a wealthy family possibly of noble rank. He studied composition at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Alexander Glazunov and piano with Nikolai Klenovsky, then subsequently in Moscow with Nikolai Hubert. He was active both as a composer, pianist and lawyer. He spent several years serving as music director in the Russian now Ukrainan city of Kherson, where he also held administrative positions. He is said to have worked on codifying Russian copyright law as it pertained to music. Peripatetic, he also lived at various times in Leipzig, Dresden as well as in Lausanne and Geneva.

His Piano Trio in c minor was published in 1913. The opening movement begins with a lengthy, ominous Moderato introduction which leads to a furious, stormy and powerful Allegro filled with memorable themes and excitement. The middle movement, Adagio, could not be more different than the preceding one--romantic, highly lyrical and calm, it sounds rather like a mid-19th century a salon piece of the sort Schumann might have written. The finale, Allegro, begins with an unusual, mysterious, spooky, syncopated rhythm that underpins the rest of thematic material, which while not sad has a downtrodden quality to it. One might image a march in retreat of a defeated army.

This is a highly original work, which sounds like little else. It is sure to make a strong impression upon audiences who are lucky enough to hear it in the concert hall. It can also be recommended to amateurs of a high technical standard.

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Emil von Reznicek, String Quartet No.1 in c minor

Emil von Reznicek

“Emil von Reznicek's String Quartet No.1 which dates from 1883 is a very lucid and well constructed work. The first movement, Allegro con fuoco, has two melodic subjects. The march-like first theme is heavily accented and strongly rhythmic, while the second is sweet and lyrical. The middle movement is in sections beginning Andante tranquillo, then più lento and finally Allegretto. Simply constructed but effective. The brilliant finale, Presto a la hongroise, is also in several sections. It begins playfully, is followed by a charming più moto ma gracioso section and then a short but piquant Presto."

Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players

Emil von Reznicek (1860-1945) was born in Vienna. He studied law and music simultaneously in Graz and pursued a career as a conductor at various opera theaters, including Graz and Berlin. Reznicek became known for parodying famous music by other composers. For example, his tone poem Schlemihl (a bungling loser) is a parody of Strauss' Ein Heldenleben. Today, Reznicek is remembered mainly for the overture to his opera Donna Diana. But the quality of his music was first rate. He and his music fell into neglect along with so many other fine composers from the Romantic era after the First World War and awaits rediscovery.

This Quartet is an impressive and very exciting work. It is the kind of work which will "bring the house down." Professionals looking for a show piece should consider it. And amateurs will get a lot of fun from it.

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Julius Weismann, String Quartet No.10 in A Minor, Op. 133

Julius Weismann Julius Weismann (1879–1950) was born in the German city of Freiburg. He studied at the Royal Bavarian Conservatory with Josef Rheinberger and Ludwig Thuille as well as with Heinrich von Herzogenberg in Berlin. He pursued a career as a composer, conductor and teacher. He composed in most genres but the string quartet was of particular interest to him and he composed quartets throughout his life. By the time he came to write String Quartet No.10 in 1940, he was already retired and living in the quiet German village of Uberlingen on the north shore of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) across from Switzerland far from the turmoil of Berlin, Munich and World War II. Weismann in the preface to the score, quotes a line from the book Alpine Memories by the French alpinist Emile Javelle (1847-1883):

It seemed as if the lovely clouds had a soul, a happy and good soul,
peaceful and soft as they floated across the blue sky above.

From the image these lines conjure up, one would be justified in thinking that the music might reflect this mood, however, this is not exactly the case. The opening movement, though marked In tempo tranquillo, ma con moto, is neither tranquil nor peaceful. Instead, there is a sense of restlessness and yearning created by the thematic material which hardly convey the idea of gazing lazily at clouds floating across the sky. The second movement, Larghetto, comes somewhat closer in mood, but really is more of a slow, pretty and stately dance. The third movement is a wild, hard-driving, pounding, energetic Scherzo, presto. The trio section, which sounds a bit like an undated ländle, provides a strong contrast. Once again, in the finale, Andante, un poco mosso, there is a sense of restlessness, created by the lower voices, while the upper voices present a melancholy but not sad theme. Tension is slowly built creating a sense of dread, of something cataclysmic to come. Lyric episodes provide contrast and release from this tension.

Unfortunately, this work has never been recorded as a string quartet. Our soundbites are from an arrangement for string orchestra in which the work loses some of its intimacy. However, they still provide a good idea of the quartet. If brought into the concert hall, this quartet is sure to make a strong impression. It presents no untoward technical challenges and as such can also be recommended to amateur players.

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Nikolai Myaskovsky, String Quartet No.13 in a minor, Op.86

Nikolai Myaskovsky

Nikolai Myaskovsky (1881-1950) has to be one of the most underrated composers of the 20th century. Most who come to his music for the first time are amazed that it is not better known. He wrote some 27 symphonies and 13 string quartets. String Quartet No.13 not only was his last such work it was his last work altogether. It was composed in 1949 at a time when the composer clearly new he was dying and hence it is in a way his musical testament. As one critic put it, "From the opening bars of the quartet and over the pulsing 8th notes in the viola and second violin, the cello brings forth a rising melody—it is like a prayer, humble and resigned, yet fervent. There is no mistaking that this is a masterpiece."

Myaskovsky was born in Congress (i.e. Russian) Poland near Warsaw, where his father, a military engineer was then serving. He took piano and violin lessons as a boy but followed in his father's footsteps, entering the military academy and graduating as an engineer. When he was posted to Moscow, he studied composition with Reinhold Gliere. Upon transfer to St. Petersburg, he finally decided to become a composer and entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he studied with Rimsky-Korsakov and Liadov. It was there he met Prokofiev with whom he became close friends. He served in WWI and was severely wounded on the Austrian front. After the war, he taught for most of his life at the Moscow Conservatory. Among his many students were Kabalevsky, Khachaturian, Shebalin and Shchedrin.

The lovely cello melody of opening movement, Moderato, in many ways sets the tone for the entire piece. There is passion and yet a valedictory mood of leave taking. It is very Russian in its romanticism. The second subject is a jaunty, angular dance-like tune which brightens the heavy mood of the opening. A third more reflective theme follows. The second movement, Presto fantastico, is a kind of disjointed scherzo in three parts. In the first section, the melody swirls about to endlessly varying rhythmical combinations. This is followed an episode in which the violin and then the cello launch into a jerky melody over an insistent 8th note accompaniment in the other voices. This is followed by a mysterious, delicate interlude. Next comes a slower movement, Andante con moto, which is in the form of an updated, simple romance, quiet and peaceful. From the opening measures of the finale, Molto vivo, energico, the main theme, which is dominated by its resolute and impulsive rhythm, bursts forth. Rather than a typical development, Myaskovsky forces this theme to alternative with a more mellow and lyrical section. With each repeat, they are slowly developed.

While we know the quartets of Shostakovich and Prokofiev, those of Myaskovsky are every bit as deserving of our attention. Here is another fine work which belongs in the concert hall and which should be of interest to professional groups everywhere, but which is well within the ability of amateurs.

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