János Spech (1767-1836)

Nationality: Hungarian
Born: December 18, 1767, Pozsony Died: November 24, 1836, Oberlimbach (age 68)

String Quartet in g minor, Op. 2, No. 1

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
7:33 I. Allegro
3:48 II. Un poco andante
3:13 III. Minuetto un poco allegro
6:08 IV. Allegro
Duration: 20 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1799-1803 (age 31-36)
Published: 1803 (age 35-36)
Dedication: M le Comte François de Koháry
1 recording, 4 videos
autoopen autoplay
Festetics String Quartet
I. Allegro
Festetics String Quartet
II. Un poco andante
Festetics String Quartet
III. Minuetto un poco allegro
Festetics String Quartet
IV. Allegro
From Edition Silvertrust

“There has, as of late, been a spate of string quartet CDs of unknown or long-forgotten composers from the 18th century. Many of these releases only serve to confirm why these works have been deservedly forgotten. This is not the case with Johannes Spech’s three Op.2 string quartets. The Hungarians claim him now and style him Janos. However, he was more or less your typical ethnic German-Austrian, born in Pressburg then part of the Habsburg Empire, now Bratislava in the Slovak Republic. He studied composition in Vienna with Haydn and then spent most of his time in Buda and Pest, then German enclaves in Austrian Hungary. There he sought out patrons from the Hungarian nobility as had Haydn. The Op.2 quartets are dedicated to M le Comte François de Koháry. (Ferenc [Franz] Graf von Koháry) They were published in 1803. What a surprise to find, despite the low opus number, very finished and mature works which are the equal of Haydn’s Opp.71 and 74 quartets, if not those of Op.76. All three works are in 4 movements, and follow an Allegro, Andante, Menuetto, Allegro molto pattern. His use of all of the voices in the presentation of thematic material is exceptional for the time and superior to that of Haydn. The melodies are fresh and tuneful, never threadbare. These works are a real find.”

The Chamber Music Journal

The Op.2 String Quartets, a set of three, were composed sometime between 1799 and 1803. One can clearly hear the influence of Spech’s teacher Haydn. The opening movement, Allegro, of the Quartet in g minor clearly has its roots in the Sturm and Drang era. A unisono opening begins the work. There is some very attractive use of chromaticism. Spech’s treatment of the cello is quite exceptional in that after the first violin, it is perhaps the most prominent voice. The beautiful second movement, Un poco Andante, recalls the slow movements of Haydn. The Menuetto, un poco allegro, with its pleading main main theme is particularly attractive. The charming trio section is clearly an Austrian Lāndler shared by the first violin and the cello. The exciting finale is a match for those of Haydn.

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