String Quartet No.1 in C Major
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.
We are pleased to present this fine work which has been unavailable for more than a century. It is suitable for both amateurs and professionals alike.