Reicha String Quintets

Author: 
John Warrack

Reicha String Quintets

  • (6) Quintets for Cello or Viola and String Quartet, A
  • (6) Quintets for Cello or Viola and String Quartet, F
  • Quintet for Cello and String Quartet

There will be listeners who have come across the Paris string quartets in the so-called quatuor concertant manner, that is to say with a soloistic first-violin part that turns the work into something of a chamber concerto. This is something more unusual a set of quintets in which a cello is the concertante instrument with a string quartet in attendance. Written in Paris in the middle of the first decade of the nineteenth century, the heyday of the quatuor concertant, they are typical of the ingenious Reicha in his use of the unexpected. He was a clever composer, as his pupils Berlioz and Liszt (among many other famous men) discovered to their benefit. These pieces find him in a more relaxed mode: no quirky fugues here. The minuets have been dropped, accentuating the chamber concerto manner, but the style is closer to the intimates of chamber music without the intellectual subtleties of Haydn or Beethoven. They are really for cellists with a curiosity about the byways of their repertory, but others could enjoy this easy-going, undemanding music, nicely played by a group clearly out for enjoyment, and well recorded too.'

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