String Quartet No.5 in F Major
"Cherubini’s Fifth String Quartet is a model of style. In the first movement, with its quiet prelude and its first Allegro where a theme is unfolded to sweep later in melodic curves through a series of quasi-Wagnerian chromatics, the composer displays daring harmony. The development is very short but admirably carried out. The Adagio is very simple and flowing and the Scherzo breathes the spirit of Beethoven. The trio section, in the major, is a kind of solo-capriccio for the first violin, where one feels that the composer is seeking new paths. And one is again somewhat reminded of the famous fugue in Beethoven’s ninth quartet (Op.59 No.3) as one listens to the Finale of this quartet, in which the composer also employs the fugue not and then, a method which he manages with the most perfect freedom.” —–the well-known critic George de St. Foix writing in Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music
Cherubini's String Quartet No.5, completed in 1835 at the age of 75, is the second of three which have been referred to as his "Late Quartets". It, along with its companions, represents a total change of style and approach to the string quartet form. The composer has become more interested in counterpoint and in extensively developing the possibilities of his theme which tend to be more austere than the operatic melodies which often occur in the earlier works. In many ways, these so called "Late Quartets" show Cherubini to be attempting the same sort of journey that Beethoven embarked upon in composing his own Late Quartets.
Luigi Cherubini ( 1760-1842) was born Florence. He studied at the conservatories in Bologna and Milan and remained in Italy until 1788 when he moved to Paris, where he lived for the rest of his life. He made his name as a composer of opera, but by 1805 Parisian tastes had changed and the heavy, serious operas that he, Gluck and others had been writing fell out of fashion. Cherubini then turned to religious and instrumental music. He served as director of the Paris Conservatory from 1822 until his death and was regarded as one of France's leading musicians. Beethoven considered Cherubini the greatest living dramatic composer, while Cherubini was perhaps the only important composer in France, who held Beethoven to be the greatest genius of the day. Perhaps no other contemporary composer studied Beethoven's Middle and Late Quartets as did Cherubini, who both admired and understood them.
This is another major work by an independent thinker which has been unjustly ignored. It belongs in the concert hall but should also attract serious minded amateur players. Either out of print or hard to obtain, we are pleased to reintroduce it.