String Quartet No.3 in E flat Major, Op.76
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. Today, Antonio Bazzini (1818-1897) 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.
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. String Quartet No.3 dates from 1878. It begins with a long, slow introduction, Molto sostenuto, which leads to the main movement, Allegro vivo, which full of elan. (our sound-bite starts at the Allegro vivo) The second movement, Minuetto, Allegro giusto, in the classical tradition is at first energetic, but also at times lyrical and tender. It is the third movement, Andante quasi allegretto--Allegro impetuoso, which is clearly the center of the quartets gravity. The sad, lilting opening theme is followed more subdued musette and then a set of excellently contrasting and effective variations. The exciting finale, Vivacissimo, is full of energy and forward motion.
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.