String Quartet No.3 in F Major, Op.38
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.
String Quartet No.3 in F Major dates 1859. At this time, Mendelssohn and Schumann were the composers whose influence was most felt in Germany and England where the next generation emulated their compositions. However, Blancís works show none of this. Instead, they build on the works of Onslow and even earlier French composers such as Jadin. In four movements, the work begins with a short, diffident Andante maestoso introduction in which the main theme of the following Allegro ma non troppo can be heard. The theme begins in rather leisurely fashion but in short order quick scale passages increase the pace of things. The second movement, Andante, is an attractive melancholy march. Though not so marked, it is a theme and set of variations. Next comes a straight forward, classical Menuetto, Allegretto quasi andante. Of particular interest is the trio section in which the cello is given the lead in presenting the running triplet theme. The finale, an Allegro, has for its main theme a jaunty melody which passed back and forth in snipets.
We have reprinted the original 1859 Richault Paris edition which because of the poor quality ink and paper which French music publishers were wont to use rendered the parts from which we were working occasionally faint. Naturally, Richault could not be bothered to add rehearsal letters. We have done this and have darkened many of the faintest areas to create what we feel is a very serviceable performance edition. Nonetheless, in view of the fact that it is not up to modern standards, we have reduced the price from the already low standard price at which we offer string quartets. Written by a man who spent most of his life performing in chamber music ensembles, this is, from its period, a good work full of pleasing melodies and generous part-writing.