String Quartet No.2 in E Major, Op.10
Max Bruch's two string were written in his youth when Mendelssohn was his guiding light. String Quartet No.2 dates from 1861.
Writing in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music, Wilhelm Altmann, the respected chamber music critic notes that all of Bruch's chamber music is distinguished by its beauty of tone. The Second Quartet is particularly effective. The themes to the opening movement, Allegro maestoso, is full of vigor and sport a Mendelssohnian aura. The breadth of the movement approaches the orchestral. A slow movement, Andante quasi adagio, follows. It begins as a simple song, but Bruch exhibits a mastery of form in the wealth of elaboration with which he treats it. The middle section provides a particularly fine contrast. The main theme of the scherzo-like third movement, Vivace ma non troppo, has a very powerful and original rhythm which carries all before it. There are two fine trios, the first smooth and flowing, the second also with an unusual rhythm. The lively finale, Vivace, moves forward with great Úlan to conclude what is a first rate work, particularly so for a young man of 23.
Max Bruch (1838-1920) enjoyed a long and fruitful career as a composer, conductor and teacher. He studied with Ferdinand Hiller and his talent was recognized early on by Schumann and Ignaz Moscheles. Today, Bruch is primarily remembered for his fine violin concertos and his choral works. However, as Altmann notes, his chamber music is beautiful and deserving of performance.
Though this quartet has from time to time been reprinted, although not recently, no edition has ever bothered to include rehearsal numbers or letters. We have added rehearsal numbers to the old Breitkopf edition so that it may be more easily navigated by players. Here is a work which should be of interest to both amateurs and professionals.