of Steve Jones
String Quartet in c minor, Op.42
Alfredo D’Ambrosio (1871-1914) was born in Naples. His initial studies were at the Naples Conservatory where he studied violin with Giuseppe Pinto and composition with Enrico Bossi, after which continued his violin studies with Pablo de Sarasate in Madrid and then with August Wilhelmj in London. He spent most of his life in Nice where he became a prominent teacher and leader of a well-known string quartet. Several of his works for violin were popularized by violinists such as Sarasate, Heifetz, Elman, Kreisler and many others. He also was a prominent arranger and editor and still is known today for his work in these areas. Besides numerous works for violin, including two concertos, he wrote an opera Pia de Tolomei, a ballet Ersilia, a string quintet and a string quartet.
The String Quartet in c minor dates from 1908 and enjoyed considerable popularity until after the First World War when tastes changed at works from the late Romantic era fell out of favor. Written with the intimate knowledge of string instruments, this is a fresh sounding work combining elements of Italian melody with Central European Romanticism and French Impressionism. The opening movement, Moderato, opens with a moody melody full of yearning over a restless accompaniment. There is just the vaguest touch of the exotic. The second movement, Allegro, takes the form of a bright, sunny scherzo. The engaging and at times playful theme has an Italiente quality. A searching second theme follows. An intense and heavily perfumed Andante, which serves as the slow movement, comes next. Though the dynamics are restrained, the strong emotional quality of the music is very apparent and effectively conveyed. The finale, Allegro energico, bursts forth driven more by its thrusting rhythm than the melody, but later lovely and more lyrical melody provides a fine contrast.
Here is a fine and fresh work which should be of interest not only to professionals but also experienced amateurs both of whom will certainly find it a rewarding a first rate work.