String Quintet No.1 in B flat Major, Op.15
For 2 Violins, 2 Violas, and Cello
The String Quintet No.1 in B flat Major, Op.15 for 2 violins, 2 violas, and cello dates from 1856 and was dedicated to Paul Antoine Cap, Blanc’s step father, an amateur violinist and violist and a well known French scientist, The work is in four movements: The opening Allegro is characterized by lovely, sunny and genial themes. The music simply flows along effortlessly. The Menuetto allegro appeals by virtue of its quirky off-beat rhythms which keep both players and listeners on the tip of their chairs. A lyrical Adagio comes next, with long-lined, beautiful cantilena melodies. The finale is a rousing Allegro, full of good spirits.
Adolphe Blanc (1828-1885) was born in the French town of Manosque. His musical talent was recognized early and he entered the Paris Conservatory at age 13 first taking a diploma in violin and then studying composition with the then famous composer Fromental Halevy. Although for a time, he served as a music director of a Parisian theater orchestra, he primarily devoted himself to composing and most of his works were for chamber ensembles. During his lifetime, these works were much appreciated by professionals and amateurs alike and in 1862 he won the prestigious Chartier Chamber Music Prize. Besides the fact that his works are pleasing and deserving of performance, Blanc's historical importance cannot be underestimated. He was one of the very few in France trying to interest the public, then with only ears for opera, in chamber music. He paved the way for the success of the next generation of French composers, Among his chamber works are three string trios, four string quartets, seven string quintets—four for 2 violins, viola, cello and bass or two cellos, the other three for 2 violins, 2 violas and cello—-fifteen piano trios, three piano quartets, four piano quintets and a septet for winds and strings.
Writing in his Chamber Music Handbook, the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann commented “The chamber music of Adolphe Blanc, himself a violist and quartet performer, is of the first order. In the style of the Vienna Classics, the works are always well constructed, with appealing melodies and interesting..”
We agree. Here is a work which is good to hear and easy to play. Long unavailable, we have reprinted the first and only edition, but have added rehearsal numbers to aid performance.