String Quartet No.2 in d minor, Op.75
"In 1874, Antonio Bazzini completed his String Quartet No.2 in d minor, Op.75. The first movement, Allegro appassionato, is by turns dramatic and lyrical. Even more lyrical is the second movement, Andante con moto, a true Song Without Words in the Mendelssohnian sense. And what a beautiful piece is the third movement, Gavotte, intermezzo! The finale, Quasi presto, is quite effective"
So writes the famous critic Wilhelm Altmann in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.
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.
Altmann recommends this quartet, especially to amateurs, for its playability. However, it is certainly strong enough to be heard in concert.