String Quartet in b minor
Teresa Carreño (1853-1917) was born in Caracas, Venezuela. She showed extraordinary musical promise at an early age. Her earliest compositions, short piano pieces, date from her sixth year. The brilliance of her piano playing soon provided the decisive impetus for her family's decision to leave Venezuela. In 1862, the family moved to New York City where she studied with the American virtuoso Louis Moreau Gottschalk. In 1866, her family relocated to Paris where she played for Rossini and Liszt, and befriended Gounod and Saint-Saëns. A few years later she began a career as a concertizing virtuoso pianist. Although she was considered one of the finest pianists of her day, she also pursued a career as an opera singer and conductor.
Although she mainly composed for the piano, she composed a string quartet and serenade for string orchestra. Of her String Quartet in b minor, the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players, has this to say about it:
“In 1896, Teresa Carreño, the famous piano virtuosa composed a string quartet which shows a thoroughly sound grasp of quartet technique and style, Particularly praiseworthy is the concise construction of each of the four movements. The main theme of the opening movement, Allegro, is a characteristically dramatic melody while the second subject, introduced by the viola, is more lyrical and expressive. Most fetching of all is a third theme, marked ‘con dolore.’ The second movement, Andante, has for a main theme a reflective, somewhat sad melody which recalls that of the slow movement to Haydn’s Op.77 No.2, the Second Lobkowitz Quartet. Particularly effective is the dramatic middle section marked Agitato con passione. Next comes a restless Mendelssohnian Scherzo, Allegro ma non troppo. The lovely trio section provides a fine contrast. The powerful finale, Allegro risoluto, is full of energy and vigor. The development is well done and in the final section a magnificent fugue appears. From the time of its first appearance, this Quartet received considerable notice.”
Unfortunately, after the First World War, it disappeared, with so many other fine works, from the repertoire and was long out of print. Although about 20 years ago, a modern edition was made, it not only was expensive, but unfortunately was inferior to the original. We have reprinted the original but have added rehearsal numbers and corrected a few mistakes. We offer it at a price we hope will tempt amateurs and professionals alike.