String Quartet No.4 in G Major, Op.79
Antonio Bazzini (1818-1897) is that rare example of a complete musician. A concert virtuoso who at the height of his career in the mid 19th century was regarded as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, violinist before the public. Yet, he gave up his concert career to devote himself to composing, teaching and above to restoring the instrumental tradition, then in decline, in his native Italy. For several decades Bazzini, who was a fine conductor, devoted himself introducing the masterpieces of the Austrian and German repertoire to Italian audiences. Sadly, today Bazzini is only remembered as the composer of the fiendishly difficult encore piece, Ronde des Lutins (Dance of the Goblins). Yet, in his time, Bazzini's chamber music and his operas were greatly esteemed. It was Paganini, the foremost virtuoso of his time, who encouraged the the young Bazzini to follow in his footsteps.
Although he wrote a number of successful operas and greatly influenced Puccini, Bazzini's six string quartets were considered his finest works. The Fourth Quartet was composed in 1889 and published by Schott in 1892 along with his Fifth Quartet. The opening movement, Allegro grazioso, begins with a warm, gentle theme. The music bustles along effortlessly in a relaxed vein. The second movement opens with a Lento introduction which is a dramatic recitative for the first violin. The main section, Con moto quasi allegretto is an pleasant but subdued march. Next comes a modern Italian version of a Gavotte. The finale, Allegro con fuoco, is full of energy and forward thrust.