Giuseppe Cambini

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String Quartet in b minor, Op.40 No.3, T.159

Cambini's String Quartet in b minor, Op.40 No.3 T.159 dates from 1789. It is one of a set of 12 quartets which he published that year. The opus numbers of Cambiniís works are meaningless as different publishers often used the same opus number for an entirely different set of works. Op.40 is an example of this. Besides referring to this set of quartets, it also refers to a set of string trios. According to D.L. Trimpert, the cataloger of Cambiniís quartets, hence the T numbers, this set of quartets was one of his last. It is in three movementsóA stormy Allegro risoluto, followed by lovely vocal Largo and concluded by an exciting Presto.


Giuseppe Cambini (1746Ė1825) was born in the Italian town of Livorno, Surprisingly little is known of his life. Surprising given that he and his music was immensely popular in Paris during the 1770ís and 1780ís where he was then living. Much of what we know of Cambiniís early life comes from his own account, which he almost certainly embellished. He claimed to have studied the violin with Filippo Manfredi and that he was the violist in a quartet which included Pietro Nardini on first violin and Luigi Boccherini on cello. He made Mozartís acquainance in Paris when the latter was touring there but most likely did know know Haydn whom he claimed was a friend of his. Cambini emigrated to Paris in the early 1770ís. There, his music was extremely well received and he began cranking out works with great rapidity. He wrote more than 80 symphonies, fourteen operas and 150 string quartets as well as numerous trios, quintets etc. One might almost conclude that he had a factory full of elves working away for him.


Nonetheless, several of his works are not only historically important, but interesting enough to stand on their own. This quartet is one such work and shows why Cambini's chamber music was in such demand in late 18th century France.

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