String Quartet in D Major, Op.2 No.2
Franz Asplmayer (1728-1786) was born in the Austrian town of Linz. He studied violin with his father and was largely self-taught as a composer. He moved to Vienna in the late 1740’s and served as a violinist in the Imperial Court Orchestra. He made Haydn’s acquaintance in 1760, about the time he became a composer for the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna. He wrote several large scale works for this house, including operas and ballets, many of which were performed throughout Europe. His music was particularly popular in France. After Mozart moved to Vienna in 1780, Asplmayer also became acquainted with him. In addition to his larger works, he wrote a considerable amount of chamber music, which along with that of Haydn and J.B. Vanhal made a major contribution to the development of the early Vienna Classical Style. For this reason, they are historically important.
Asplmayer was influenced by Johann Stamitz and the other composers of the Mannheim School, as were Haydn, Vanhal and most forward looking composers active in the 1760’s. The works of Stamitz and his followers led to a change of musical style throughout Europe. Asplmayer combines the advances of the Mannheim school with developments in Vienna. An example of this Viennese influence can be found in String Quartet in D Major, Op.2 No.2. It is in four movements rather than the standard three found in most Mannheim works. While we do not know exactly when this quartet was composed, it certainly was before 1775 and most likely in the 1760’s. The opening Vivace is straight forward and full of energy. The Minuet which follows is noteworthy for its trio section in the minor. It is full of pathos, while the following Andante cantabile has a grave, restrained mood. The appealing finale, a Rondo, is, in the words of the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann, fresh and full of good spirits.
While works from this period, today, are never considered great masterpieces, nonetheless, the best of them, such as this one, not only show from what foundation Haydn and Mozart were to build, and hence are of historical importance, but also are well-written and enjoyable to perform.
Parts & Score: $25.95