Herbert Howells, Rhapsodic Quintet for Clarinet & String Quartet, Op.31

Herbert Howells Howells' Rhapsodic Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet dates from 1919. It is in one movement and consists of one long flowing series of song-like melodies. However, it is highly organized, and there is no difficulty in spotting the two main themes and following their exposition, development and recapitulation. ‘Rhapsodic’ refers more to the overall one-movement shape, which encompasses a number of contrasting moods or phases. Howells himself described the Quintet as having a mystic quality, which may be sensed at the outset in the impassioned unison theme that sweeps upwards. This provides the first principal idea of the work. In contrast to this is a tender, tranquil falling theme introduced by the clarinet and echoed by the violins in longer notes. Shortly after the first climax a short, side idea appears, again on the clarinet. The music quickens but gradually, toward the end, slows in tempo, turns calm and ends serenely.

Herbert Howells (1892-1983) was born in Lydney, Gloucestershire. His father was an amateur organist, and Herbert himself showed early musical promise. He attended the Royal College of Music where he studied with Charles Villiers Stanford, Hubert Parry and Charles Wood. Stanford considered Howells one of his most brilliant and gifted students and persuaded him to enter the first Carnegie Trust composition competition in 1916. His Piano Quartet in a minor, Op.21 won first prize. He subsequently taught at the Royal College of Music and later at London University.

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Herbert Howells, Phantasy String Quartet, Op.25

Herbert Howells It was during the decades between 20 and 40 that Herbert Howells focused his efforts chiefly on orchestral and chamber music. The Phantasy String Quartet dates from 1924. It features a cyclic approach to the presentation of the thematic material. It is in one continuous movement, however, it goes through many changes of mood. The melodic material is folkloric in nature and its development is similar to that which Liszt called metamorphosis.

Herbert Howells (1892-1983) was born in Lydney, Gloucestershire. His father was an amateur organist, and Herbert himself showed early musical promise. He attended the Royal College of Music where he studied with Charles Villiers Stanford, Hubert Parry and Charles Wood. Stanford considered Howells one of his most brilliant and gifted students and persuaded him to enter the first Carnegie Trust composition competition in 1916. His Piano Quartet in a minor, Op.21 won first prize. He subsequently taught at the Royal College of Music and later at London University.

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Erkki Melartin, Six Pieces for Piano Trio, Op.121

Erkki Melartin (1875-1937) was born in the Finnish town of Käkisalmi. He studied with Martin Wegelius in Helsinki and then in Vienna with Robert Fuchs. He pursued a career as a composer, conductor and teacher, serving as the director of the Helsinki Conservatory. He was a prolific composer who wrote in most genres. His music shows the influence of Mahler and is primarily written in the late, post Brahmsian idiom. He did not ignore chamber music and composed a piano quintet, a string quintet, four string quartets and several short works for piano trio. Unfortunately, most of these have remained languishing in manuscript form in libraries and have not been published. His work, as the quartet clearly shows, is quite accomplished and indicates that he was a first rate composer whose music deserves to enter the repertoire and to be heard on a regular basis.

Erkki Melartin's Six Pieces for Piano Trio were originally composed for cello and piano. Shortly after they appeared, his publisher asked if he could make versions for violin and piano and for piano trio. This he did. Each pieces was dedicated to a different person or persons, friends and fellow musicians. Although they were composed in the early 1920s, they are clearly products of the Romantic era, Played together, they are the length of a standard piano trio, but any of the six would make a fine encore. These works are suitable for both professionals and amateur players.

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Felix Weingartner, Sextet in e minor, Op.33

Felix Weingartner Felix Weingartner (1863-1942) was born in Zara, Dalmatia, today's Zadar, Croatia, to Austrian parents. In 1883, he went to the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied composition with Carl Reinecke. He also studied privately with Franz Liszt in Weimar. Weingartner was one of the most famous and successful conductors of his time, holding positions in Hamburg, Mannheim, Danzig, Munich, Berlin and Vienna, where he succeeded Gustav Mahler as Director of the Imperial Opera. Despite his demanding career as a conductor, Weingartner, like Mahler, thought of himself equally as a composer and devoted considerable time to composition. He wrote several symphonies, numerous operas, some instrumental concertos, and a considerable amount of chamber music, including four string quartets, a piano sextet and a string quintet. Additionally he wrote a great number of vocal works and instrumental sonatas. Though many of his works originally achieved a fair amount acclaim, they quickly disappeared from the concert stage. It is only in the past few years that their excellence has been rediscovered.

The Piano Sextet was composed in 1904. It is a dark, brooding late romantic work written on a big scale. The first theme to the opening movement, Allegro appassionato, is a powerful, striving subject which dissipates before achieving a climax. Rather it leads to the dramatic second theme which is which is hopeful and optimistic. The second movement, Allegretto, begins as an intermezzo. The striking main theme is a lopsided, grotesque dance of the marionettes, accentuated by the rhythm. The second subject, in the violins, couldn't be more different, sweet and highly romantic. A third melody is calmer but also lovely. A slow movement, Adagio, comes next. Weingartner instructs that it is to be played as if improvising but in tempo. It begins with a long piano introduction which certainly creates the exact mood of a pianist improvising. Gradually, and quite softly, the strings enter, embellishing but not taking center stage from the piano. Finally, the piano fades into the background as the strings begin to rise. This leads to a quicker middle section, followed by a highly dramatic episode. The massive finale is simply titled Danza Funebre, with no tempo marking. The pounding introductory measures give no hint of the sad funereal dance which follows. Once can almost visualize a procession. From funereal the music moves on to the macabre. The gloom is only lightened briefly in the middle section which has a more elegiac quality.

This is a superb work, not to be missed on any piano sextet evening. Weingartner's Piano Sextet calls for the same combination as some other works we offer which you may wish to obtain so you can make a night of it. These include Mikhail Glinka's Grand Sextet, William Sterndale Bennett's Piano Sextet, Sergei Lyapunov's Piano Sextet, Paul Juon's Piano Sextet, George Onslow's Piano Sextet, Glinka's Divertimento Brillante and Henri Bertini's Piano Sextet No.3.

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Alexander Borodin, Piano Quintet in c minor

Alexander Borodin "Considering that Borodin was neither acquainted with Schumann's music (including his piano quintet) nor that of his Russian contemporaries (i.e. Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Balakirev etc.), his Piano Quintet must be considered an extraordinarily significant work. It shows imagination and boldness. In it, we can hear the seeds Prince Igor, along with the influence of Mendelssohn and Glinka with whom he was familiar."
—So wrote the respected Russian music critic Yevgeni Braudo.

While Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) is fairly well-known, it is his orchestral pieces and not his chamber music which has made his name. Nine out of ten people could not tell you that the famous Borodin melody in the popular Broadway musical Kismet is from his Second String Quartet. But Borodin wrote several lovely chamber music works. These fall into two distinct periods. The first is from his time in Germany during the late 1850's when he was doing post graduate work in chemistry. His main occupation was that of a Professor Chemistry at the university in St. Petersburg. Music was only a hobby he engaged in for relaxation. The second period dates from his time in St. Petersburg when he came under the influence of and received considerable help from Rimsky-Korsakov. Tchaikovsky was to quip, "Oh Borodin, a good chemist, but he cannot write a proper measure without Rimsky helping him."

The Piano Quintet was composed in 1862 while Borodin was vacationing in Italy after completing his his studies in Germany. It was one of the few works from this period that has survived in its entirety. In three movements, the Piano Quintet clearly shows Borodin’s musical imagination as well as his compositional skill. As such, it demolishes the argument that Tchaikovsky and other critics often bandied about, that Borodin either had no compositional skill, or what skill he had, he gained from Rimsky Korsakov and Mussorgsky.

The main theme of the first movement, Andante, based on a turn is clearly Russian sounding. Each voice has a chance to bring it forth. The second movement, Scherzo, begins with a fresh and lively subject first introduced by the viola. It sounds as if a fugue is about to begin, but Borodin surprises by almost immediately introducing the beautiful second theme. The Quintet closes with a very Russian sounding Allegro moderato.

The beautiful melodies Borodin brings forth coupled with the fine part writing make this a work which every Piano Quintet Party will want to try.

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Heinrich Anton Hoffmann, String Quartet No.2 in B flat Major, Op.3 No.2

Heinrich Anton Hoffmann (1770-1842) was born in the German city of Mainz. As his father was a court councillor to the Elector, he was well educated attending university and taking degrees in law and philosophy, all the while studying violin on which he became a virtuoso. He pursued a career as a concertmaster and Kapellmeister or Music Director of several important theaters, mostly in Frankfurt, where he got to know Mozart, who so admired his playing that the two of them often played chamber music together while Mozart was in Frankfurt. Hoffmann wrote some six string quartets which were clearly influenced by the Vienna Classical style of Haydn and Mozart.

String Quartet No.2 in B flat Major is the second of a set of three which came out in 1794, which were much like the works of the Wranitzky brothers and Franz Krommer. The work opens with an ominous Largo introduction leading to a very lively. The second movement, a typical south German Menuetto allegro sostenuto, somewhat slower than Haydn-type minuets. This is followed by an Andante with a set of four variations in which each instrument is given a chance. The finale is buoyant Rondo allegro scherzando.

Though once popular, the quartet has long been unavailable. We have reprinted the original edition of 1795 and though easily readable, it is not like a modern edition and our price reflects this fact. Here is a fresh work from the Vienna Classical era that makes a pleasant change from Haydn.

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George Onslow, String Quintet No.10 in f minor, Op.32

George Onslow Although the first 3 of Onslow's string quintets were for the standard 2 violins, 2 violas and cello, thereafter, his quintets, with the exception of his last three, were for 2 cellos and one viola. At the premiere performance of String Quintet No.10, which took place in London, the second cellist failed to show up. The audience grew restless waiting and begged Onslow, who was sitting with them, to take the part of cello II. Though he was an excellent cellist, he felt unprepared and did not wish to ruin the maiden performance. The famous bass virtuoso Dragonetti was also in the audience and people began shouting, let Dragonetti take the part. At first, Onslow refused, saying the bass would make it too heavy and ruin the effect. However, he eventually gave in and allowed Dragonetti, who sightread the part, to play. To his surprise, he was delighted with the effect and thereafter always included an alternate bass part in lieu of cello II. He also added an an alternate viola part in lieu of the first cello allowing the work to be performed as a viola quintet as well.

During his lifetime, Onslow, above all, was known as the composer of string quintets for 2 violins, viola and 2 cellos. With the exception of Boccherini, all of the other major composers before him, including Mozart and Beethoven, wrote string quintets for 2 violins, 2 violas and cello. (Schubert's great work remained undiscovered until 1850 and unknown for another decade after that.) Schumann and Mendelssohn ranked Onslow's chamber music with that of Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. George Onslow (1784-1853), certainly illustrates the fickleness of fame. He was born the son of an English father and French mother. His 36 string quartets and 34 string quintets were, during his own lifetime and up to the end of the 19th century, 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, the latter modeling his own 2 cello quintet (D.956) on those of Onslow and not, as is so often claimed, on those of Boccherini. As tastes changed 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. Since then, his music, to the delight of players and listeners alike, is slowly being rediscovered, played and recorded. Onslow’s writing was unique in that he was successfully able to merge the drama of the opera into the chamber music idiom perfected by the Vienna masters.

String Quintet No.10 in f minor, Op.32 dates from 1827. The work begins with a substantial Largo introduction which at first creates a sense of foreboding and tension but then turns more lyrical and romantic. The main section, Allegro, is restrained but has the unmistakable Onslow forward drive and excitement. The Andante which follows is mostly calm and singing, but there are several turbulent interruptions. Third is one Onslow’s hard driving scherzos which Onslow titles Menuetto, allegro impetuoso. A minuet it is not, impetuous it certainly is, full of energy and excitement. The finale, Allegro agitato, bursts forth, racing at high speed, with hardly a moment for a breath.

This is another of Onslow's fine string quintets.

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Friedrich Ernst Fesca, String Quartet No.3 in B flat Major, Op.1 No.3

Friedrich Ernst Fesca Friedrich Ernst Fesca (1789-1826) was born in the German town of Magdeburg. He studied piano and violin with several different teachers, including for a short time Ludwig Spohr. By age 16 had already obtained a position as a violinist in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Not long after, he was employed as solo violinist to the Court of Jerome Bonaparte, at that time, King of Westphalia. After this he lived for a while in Vienna where he befriended the famous violinist, Ignaz Schuppanzigh, first violinist of the famous Beethoven Razumovsky String Quartet. His final years were spent working in Karlsruhe along with fellow composer Franz Danzi. He composed in nearly every genre from opera to solo piano works, however, the bulk of his out put was chamber music. Carl Maria von Weber, writing of Fesca’s chamber music, had this to say. “Mr. Fesca is completely master of whatever he undertakes to express. I am fully convinced of his remarkable talent. His works are carefully written, thoroughly elaborated and richly flavored." Spohr, upon hearing a performance of one of the Op.1 string quartets called it a fine work full of talent.

String Quartet No.3 in B flat Major, Op.1 No.3 is the last of a set of three which appeared in 1806, It begins with a genial, tuneful Allegro. This is followed by a sweet Andantino. In third place is a Poco presto which starts off rather calmly but excitement quickly arrives. The finale, Rondo, is pleasant and charming conclusion. Fesca’s tuneful works were popular through out most of the first half of the 19th century, but like so many other good pieces disappeared for no real discernible reason. We are pleased to reintroduce an early quartet which certainly makes an excellent alternative to the inevitable Haydn or Mozart.

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Friedrich Dotzauer, Quartet in a minor for Flute, Violin, Viola & Cello, Op.38

Johann Justus Friedrich Dotzauer Encouraged by his father to pursue a musical career, Johann Justus Friedrich Dotzauer (1783-1860) studied the piano and violin before eventually choosing the cello as his main instrument. His talent was clear to all early on and he began giving concerts by the time he was fifteen. A few years later, he was serving as a cellist in the court orchestra of Meiningen. Eventually he was able to obtain the prestigious position of solo cellist in the Royal Orchestra at Dresden. His playing dazzled all who heard it, and his skills as a teacher resulted in what became known as the "Dresden school" of cello performance. He concertized to much acclaim throughout Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and France, continuing to perform in public right up until his retirement in 1850. Many of his students became famous cellists in their own right and include such names as Friedrich Grützmacher, Bernhard Cossmann and Julius Goltermann.

Dotzauer’s Quartet for Flute and Strings in a minor, Op.38 dates from 1816 and is the first of three such works he was to compose. The lovely and genial main theme to the opening Allegro con espressione, is introduced first by the flute and then given to the violin and then the cello. The middle movement, Andante, is calm and mostly peaceful. The finale, a Rondo allegro, us a pleasant affair with a clever fugue in the middle. While the flute takes the part that the first violin would have in a standard string quartet, this is by no means a show off work for flute. The other voices are given chances to shine.

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Franz Berwald, Piano Quintet No.1 in c minor, Op.5

Franz Berwald Sometime during the 1850’s, a German music critic is reputed to have asked Franz Berwald (1796-1868) if he was still a composer. Berwald stared at him coldly and replied, “No, I am a glass blower.” This was neither a joke nor a sarcastic put-down of the critic by a bitter man whose music had been spurned in his own country and whose career in music had met with failure after failure. Berwald had in fact, at that time, actually been a glass blower! He had become involved with this successful business, and not his first, in order to make a living, something he could not do as a musician. Liszt, whom Berwald befriended in the 1850’s, told him, “You have true originality, but you will not be a success in your own lifetime.” Sadly, this prediction proved true. Berwald’s music remained unplayed and for the most part—especially in his native Sweden—unappreciated. Finally, after more than a century and half after his death, he has been hailed by critics all over the world as a great Swedish composer. Born in Stockholm in 1796, Berwald was taught the violin by his father, a German who had settled in Sweden and was a member of the court orchestra. Berwald followed in his father's footsteps.

His Piano Quintet No.1 in c minor, Op.5 dates from 1853. Obviously, the opus number bears no relationship to reality. It could hardly have been only his fifth work, given that he was 57 at the time. The Quintet's first movement, Allegro molto, begins in dramatic and urgent fashion with an oddly slow scherzo middle section. The second movement, is a tender Adagio quasi andante. The finale, Allegro assai e con spirito, is the most effective, full of power and forward drive.

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Franz Lachner, String Quartet No.2 in A Major, Op.76

Franz Lachner Franz Lachner (1803-90) was born in Rain am Lech, a small Bavarian town and trained in Munich. He is the older brother of Ignaz Lachner, whose works we also publish. In 1823, by winning a musical competition, Lachner was awarded a position as an organist in a church in Vienna. In Vienna, he met Schubert. “We two, Schubert and I, spent most of our time together sketching new compositions. We were the closest of friends, mornings performing for each other and discussing in depth every imaginable topic with the greatest of candor.” It should come as no surprise then that Schubert influenced Lachner’s musical compositions more than anyone else. He left Vienna in 1834 and returned to Munich where he remained the rest of his life, serving as Conductor of the Royal Bavarian Orchestra from 1834 to 1868. He also held the position of Professor of Composition at the Royal Conservatory. Lachner's string quartets were much admired and often performed. Mendelssohn was fascinated by them and Schumann called Lachner the most talented composer in southern Germany. Writing twenty years later, Tchaikovsky noted that Lachner had to be placed near the pinnacle of fine composers.

String Quartet No.2 in A Major, Op.76 dates from 1844. The opening Allegro reveals how Lachner, like his friend Schubert, was clearly a child of the Viennese classical school. The writing is straight-forward and melodious. There is a certain Schubertian naiveté to the music. The calm Adagio, though exhibiting no great depth of feeling, is nonetheless very beautiful. The chromatic and exciting Scherzo, Allegro assai is a kind of moto perpetual. A marvelous, singing solo graces the trio section. This is a superb movement. The main theme of the finale, an Allegro in 2/4, exhibits a rolling motion of the sort Schubert employed in his last quartet, D.887. A more lyrical subject serves as the second theme.

This early-mid Romantic quartet is sure to appeal to amateur and professional alike and would certainly not be out of place in the concert hall where a fresh work from this era is required.

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Henry Litolff, Piano Trio No.1 in d minor, Op.47

Henry Charles Litolff

"Listening to Litolff's music is an extraordinary and surprising experience. There are times when Litolff is the equal of Beethoven, other times when he is the equal of Liszt and especially times when he is equal of Mendelssohn. Hard to credit, perhaps, but true as a hearing of his piano trios reveals."
The Chamber Music Journal

Henry Charles Litolff (1818-1891) was a keyboard virtuoso and composer of Romantic music. Litolff was born in London, the son of a Scottish mother and an Alsatian father. His father was a violinist who had been taken to London as a prisoner after being captured while fighting for Napoleon. Litolff's first music lessons were with his father, but when he was twelve he played for the famous pianist Ignaz Moscheles, who was so impressed that he taught the boy without charge. (Moscheles had also taught Mendelssohn) Litolff's promise was indeed realized, and he enjoyed a very successful concert career throughout Europe, and was widely considered one of the leading pianists of his time. Liszt was so deeply impressed by Litolff's talent that he dedicated his first Piano Concerto to him. The two were good friends. Besides performing, Litolff also taught. Among his many students was the famous Wagner protégé and conductor, Hans von Bülow. He founded the well-known publishing house of Litolff Editions. His most notable works were his four piano concerti "Concerto Symphoniques" and his three piano trios.

Piano Trio No.1 dates from 1847 and is in four movements. The massive opening Allegro begins with a somber introduction before the powerful main theme is advanced. A lengthy, complex development à la Liszt finally leads to the gorgeous second theme. The slow movement is an Andante, which features a simple, choral melody. At first, the piano and the strings alternate with each other in presenting the thematic material, but as dramatic tension is slowly built, all three join forces. The thrusting Beethovian main theme of the Scherzo which follows brooks no delay as it rushes forward with its boundless energy. The finale, Presto, is a contest between two contrasting themes, one ebullient and playful, the other lyrical and romantic.

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Henry Litolff, Piano Trio No.2 in E flat Major, Op.56

Henry Charles Litolff Henry Charles Litolff (1818-1891) was a keyboard virtuoso and composer of Romantic music. Litolff was born in London, the son of a Scottish mother and an Alsatian father. His father was a violinist who had been taken to London as a prisoner after being captured while fighting for Napoleon. Litolff's first music lessons were with his father, but when he was twelve he played for the famous pianist Ignaz Moscheles, who was so impressed that he taught the boy without charge. (Moscheles had also taught Mendelssohn) Litolff's promise was indeed realized, and he enjoyed a very successful concert career throughout Europe, and was widely considered one of the leading pianists of his time. Liszt was so deeply impressed by Litolff's talent that he dedicated his first Piano Concerto to him. The two were good friends. Besides performing, Litolff also taught. Among his many students was the famous Wagner protégé and conductor, Hans von Bülow. He founded the well-known publishing house of Litolff Editions. His most notable works were his four piano concerti "Concerto Symphoniques" and his three piano trios.

"Listening to Litolff's music is an extraordinary and surprising experience. There are times when Litolff is the equal of Beethoven, other times when he is the equal of Liszt and especially times when he is equal of Mendelssohn. Hard to credit, perhaps, but true as a hearing of his piano trios reveals."
The Chamber Music Journal

Piano Trio No.2 in E flat Major, Op.56 was composed in 1850. The opening very dramatic, romantic and fetching Allegro is dominated by its dotted rhythm and showing the influence of Schumann. The second movement is a lively and playful Scherzo, allegro vivace, happy and fleet which also has the aura of Schumann about it. Next comes an Andante calm and peaceful. Its main theme is a very vocal melody, perhaps based on a folksong. The finale, Prestissimo, starts almost as if in mid-measure. It races along with incredible forward motion, whirling about with hardly a moment to catch a breadth.

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Frantisek Adam Mica, String Quartet No.2 in C Major

František Adam Mica (1746-1811) was born in the Bohemian town of Jaromerice, then part of the Austrian Habsburg Empire. He came from a family of musicians several of whom bore similar names. His father, Karel, received an appointment to a minor position at the Imperial Court in Vienna around 1760 and František left went with him. He studied law in Vienna and after graduating in 1767, held several government positions in various provincial capitals of the Empire, including Graz, Bruck an der Mur, Krakow, and Lemberg (present day Lviv). After the invasion of Polish troops, he was imprisoned in Lublin for six months, after which he retired from government service and moved to Vienna in 1788 where he spent the rest of his life, much of it as a member of the Imperial Court Orchestra. Most likely he studied music with his uncle Frantisek Antonin Mica a prominent Bohemian composer and musician. Mica, despite his government service, was a prolific composer who produced numerous operas, symphonies, violin concertos, and eight string quartets. He got to know Mozart who was said to have appreciated Mica’s music some of which was performed publicly in Vienna. Much of his music remains neglected and in manuscript form in Austrian and Czech archives.

The String Quartet in C Major is the second of his eight quartets composed around 1786. It shows that Mica was au courant with musical developments made by Haydn. The C Major Quartet in is four movements which was standard for works in the Vienna Classical Style rather than in three movements as favored by composers of the Mannheim School. The work opens with a pleasant Allegro moderato non tanto and is followed by a gorgeous Andante, full of lovely melodies. Next comes a typical Haydnesque Menuetto. The finale is a graceful Rondo allegretto.

Besides being a pleasant work to play, hear and perform, this work is historically important as it is an example of what Haydn and Mozart's contemporaries, whose works we almost never get to hear, were doing. Our new edition is based a manuscript copy in the library of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna.

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Antonio Bazzini, String Quartet No.1 in C Major

Antonio Bazzini Antonio Bazzini (1818-1897) today is remembered as one of Italy's greatest violinists and the composer of the fiendishly difficult encore piece, Ronde des Lutins (Dance of the Goblins), however, in his time, Bazzini's chamber music and his operas were greatly esteemed.

When Paganini, the foremost virtuoso of his time, heard the young Bazzini perform, he encouraged him to pursue a career as a concert violinist. This Bazzini did, concertizing throughout Europe for many years. At the very height of his fame, Bazzini gave up the career of a concert virtuoso to concentrate on composing, and in particular, trying to renew the Italian instrumental tradition and interest in classical music which by mid 19th century was already on the decline. For the next several decades he based himself in Florence and Milan where he not only taught and composed, but as a conductor, also introduced the masterpieces of the Austrian and German repertoire to Italian audiences.

Although he wrote a number of successful operas and greatly influenced Puccini, Bazzini's six string quartets were considered his finest works. The First Quartet has no opus number but dates from 1864. It won first prize at the Milan Quartet Society's competition. Writing of the work, Arrigo Boito, the prominent Italian critic, composer and novelist, noted:

It is a fine, noble work, remarkable from all points of view, full of splendor. In Bazzini's quartet we perceive a mind trained for many years not only to listening but also to performing the great German quartets.

The Quartet begins with an Adagio introduction which leads to the powerful and dramatic main movement, Allegro risoluto. The second movement, Andante sostenuto, is pensive in mood and shows the spirit of Beethoven. Of particular note is the use of lyrical polyphony, long ignored by Italian composers. This is followed by an exciting Mendelssohnian Scherzo and a spirited finale, Allegro decisio.

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Vissarion Shebalin, String Quartet No.8 in C Major, Op.53

Vissarion Shebalin By the time Shebalin wrote his String Quartet No.8 in C Major, Op.53 during 1960, he had had a serious stroke which had left him paralyzed on his right side. He was forced to learn how to write with his left hand, which he did. The Quartet begins with an interesting Andante. It leads to an Allegro, which is a cross between a scherzo and a march. A dark-hued Adagio comes next and has quicker middle section. The last movement, Allegro has an immediacy and sense of urgency. This can perhaps be explained by the fact that while working on the it, Shebalin’s doctors estimated his remaining life not in hours but in minutes.

Writing of his visit to Shostakovich, the Polish composer Krzystztof Meyer said that in Shostakovich’s study he found pictures of only three composers: Mahler, Mussorgsky and Shebalin. Not only Shostakovich but most of Shebalin’s contemporaries regarded him as being in the front rank of composers from their generation. Vissarion Shebalin (1902-63) was born in Omsk, Siberia where he began his musical studies. Later at the Moscow Conservatory, he studied under Myaskovsky. During the 1920’s he was attracted by modernism, but during the 1930’s he was drawn to traditionalism with its attachment to folkloric melodies. By 1942, he was appointed director of the Moscow Conservatory. When Stalin came to power, Shebalin was forced, as were all of the other major Soviet composers, to find some sort of modus vivendi with Socialist Realism. Although his music is well-known within Russia, it is virtually never heard outside of it. Chamber music always interested Shebalin and constitutes a sizable part of his output. His nine string quartets span the length of his entire career from student right up until his death. They are an important body of work which deserves to be better known and to be performed.

This is another important Soviet string quartet. Within Russia the quartets of Shebalin are held in the highest regard. It surprising that they have never made a mark abroad. This quartet deserves to be heard in concert but can be managed by amateurs as well.

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Joseph Wölfl, Piano Trio in c minor, Op.23 No.3

Joseph Wölfl Joseph Wölfl (1773-1812), (the name is often spelled Woelfl) was born in Salzburg. He studied violin, piano and composition there with Leopold Mozart (Wolfgang’s father) and Michael Haydn (Joseph’s brother). In 1790, he moved to Vienna where it is thought he briefly studied with Wolfgang Mozart. Wölfl became a virtuoso pianist and was sometimes considered to be Beethoven’s equal. It was on Wolfgang’s recommendation the Wölfl was able to procure a position with Count Michal Casimir Oginski as a piano teacher in Warsaw. During the political upheavals in Poland he returned to Vienna and then began a career as a touring concert pianist, eventually settling in Paris (1801-1805) and then London where he spent the rest of his life. Wölfl wrote operas, ballets, symphonies, works for piano, songs and quite a lot of chamber music, including some 25 string quartets, 3 string quintets, 15 standard piano trios and several others for various instrumental combinations with piano. In addition to this, he wrote dozens of sonatas and other works for violin and piano, flute and piano and harp and piano. Wölfl's music is of a very high quality and it would not be an exaggeration to say it the equal to Haydn's. It was often performed during his lifetime and for several decades thereafter when it inexplicably disappeared from concert stages.

The Piano Trio, Op.23 No.3 in c minor is the last of a set of three which were published in 1803 and completed the year before, while he was sojourning in Paris. The opening movement, Allegro, begins with a short hesitant introduction which leads to the main section, a Mozartean fluid affair, elegant but with much forward motion. The main subject of the second movement, Andante, sound rather like an aria. In the Haydnesque third movement, Menuetto, presto, bursts out of the gate at full speed and never lets up. The finale, Allegretto, though not so marked is a theme and set of interesting variations. Unlike the piano trios of Haydn and Mozart, where the cello is virtually an afterthought, here the cello is given a real part to play and is not just a double of the piano bass line.

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Witold Maliszewski, String Quartet No.1 in F Major, Op.2

Witold Maliszewski Witold Maliszewski (1873-1939) was born in the town of Mohyliv-Podilskyi, then part of Russian Poland now located in Ukraine. His initial studies were at the Imperial Conservatory in Tiflis (now Tbilisi) with Mikhail Ivanov-Ippolitov. He then attended the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he studied with Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov. In 1908, he obtained the position of conductor of the Odessa Symphony Orchestra. He was active in Odessa until 1920 and was a founder and first director of the Odessa Conservatory. Due to the Russian Revolution, he moved to Warsaw in 1920 where he held several positions, including Professor of Composition at the Warsaw Conservatory. He composed in most genres and his chamber music was held in particularly high regard, winning several competition prizes.

His String Quartet No.1 in F Major, Op.2 dates from 1903. The opening movement, Moderato, has for its main theme a rather moving elegaic melody and the conclusion of the movement is particularly effective. The jovial Scherzo, allegro vivo, which comes next, plays well and is original sounding. The Andante con moto is full of Slavic charm. The finale, Allegro, is another very effective movement with a magnificent fugue in the middle.

This is quite an appealing work, with fine string writing for all of the voices, many tuneful melodies and original touches. It has been out of print for more than a century. Certainly it should not be missed by amateurs but professionals can count on it being a success in the concert hall where it is sure to be well received.

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Albéric Magnard, Quintet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon & Piano, Op.8

Albéric Magnard Albéric Magnard (1865-1914) was born in Paris to wealthy parents. His father François Magnard was a bestselling author and editor of the Paris newspaper Le Figaro. After military service and graduating from law school, he entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied counterpoint with Théodore Dubois, Jules Massenet and Vincent d'Indy. Magnard's musical output numbered only 22 works with opus numbers. Larger compositions such as symphonies were his main area of interest, however, he did write a piano trio, this string quartet and some instrumental sonatas. Magnard's musical style is typical of French composers contemporaneous to him, but occasionally, there are passages that foreshadow the music of Gustav Mahler. Magnard's use of cyclical form was influenced by César Franck

His Quintet for Piano and Winds dates from 1894. It is a big work painted a broad canvas. The first movement, Sombre, shows the influence of Debussy as well as some of the lush tonalities of the late Romantics. Beginning almost in mid-phrase, it is anything but somber. Rather it is light and impassioned. There is considerable tension, including a fugal section in the middle before the movement calmly concludes. The second movement Tendre, on the other hand is somber, beginning with a long meditative duo between the clarinet and the piano. The Leger, which follows, fulfills the function of a scherzo and trio, sounding as if written by a latter day French Mendelssohn, beginning at first in a spooky mood before brightening. The finale, Joyeux, begins resolutely and sound almost like battle music, making a boisterous and triumphant conclusion to the work.

Virtually impossible to obtain for many years, we are pleased to make this first class quartet available once more. It should certainly be on the list of repertoire of works for winds and piano.

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Benjamin Godard, Six Duettini for Two Violins & Piano, Op.18

Benjamin Godard Godard's Six Duettini for Two Violins and Piano, Op.18 dates from 1878. They consist of six contrasting pieces all of them fairly short except for the last one, Serenade in the Spanish Style which is a bit of a barn burner. Romantic and tuneful, all six can be played together in recital as the length of a full sonata or separately as encores.

Benjamin Godard (1849-95) was born in Paris. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire composition with Reber and violin with Henri Vieuxtemps. He was somewhat of a prodigy on that instrument, as well as on the viola, and accompanied Vieuxtemps to Germany on concert tours on two occasions. Godard enjoyed chamber music and played in several performing ensembles. This experience stood him good stead when it came to writing effective chamber music compositions. In 1878, Godard was the co-winner with Théodore Dubois, head of the Paris Conservatory, of a musical competition instituted by the city of Paris. He composed music with great facility and from 1878 up to the time until his death Godard composed a surprisingly large number of works, including the opera Jocelyn, from which the famous "Berceuse" has become perhaps his best known work. He also composed several symphonic works, ballets, concertos, overtures and chamber music, including three string quartets and two piano trios.

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