String Quartet No.6 in a minor
Cherubini was 77 years old when he finished his last string quartet in 1837. Few composers this age penned a work as vigorous as this one. It is full of the drama and agitation one would have expected from a much younger man.
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.
The famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players, has this to say about Cherubini's String Quartet No.6:
"The first movement, Allegro moderato, has for its main theme an impressive lyrical melody which when it first appears is in the key of E but later in A. The development brings interesting modulations. The following Andante grazioso (2nd movement) is especially beautiful with its rich tonalities. The Scherzo which comes next is quite powerful whilst the trio section is graceful and rather unusual from a rhythmic standpoint. The finale, Allegro affettuso, begins quite energetically but soon we encounter elegiac episodes in which the main themes of the three preceding movements briefly make their appearance before the quartet is brought to a close by a short, brilliant coda. More attention and consideration ought to be paid to this fine work."
Either out of print or hard to obtain, we are pleased to reprint an excellent early edition of this work. It will make an excellent concert program selection but will also appeal to amateurs.