Otto Dessoff

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String Quintet in G Major, Op.10

For 2 Violins, Violas & 2 Cellos

Born in Leipzig, Felix Otto Dessoff (1835-1892) studied music at the renown Leipzig Conservatory with Ignaz Moscheles, Moritz Hauptmann and Julius Rietz,  all of whom were among the foremost teachers of the day. Dessoff made his name as a conductor and was widely regarded as one of the very best of his time. By 19, he was theater director in Dusseldorf and a mere 5 years later was offered a guest position with, perhaps the premiere theater, the Vienna Court Opera House. In Vienna, he became good friends with Brahms and later was to premiere several of that composerís orchestral works. Although he had composed some works during the 1850ís and early 60ís, he gave up composing when his career as a conductor blossomed.


In 1878, he again decided to compose and produced two fine works of chamber music. His String Quartet Op.7 in F Major dating from that year and a string quintet two years after that. The String Quintet in G Major, Op.10 is for two violins, viola and two cellos rather than two violas, the usual combination for a string quintet. Brahms visited Dessoff just about the time the Quintet was coming to completion. Dessoff showed it to him and Brahms praised it lavishly. Not only was this unusual for Brahms, but especially so where a work sounded very Brahmsian, which is certainly the case with this quintet. Someone, who did not know it was Dessoff and that Brahms himself never published a work for this combination, would certainly guess that this work was composed by Brahms.


The opening Allegro con fuoco, begins with an energetic and rhythmically muscular theme which has a very Brahmsian flavor to it. The writing is very assured and well-executed. The second movement, Andante sostenuto, begins calmly with a mood of inward reflection. The deep responses given by the cellos creates a sense, not quite of mourning but certainly of heaviness. Then suddenly passion is inserted into the mix with a melodic motif right out of one of Brahms' own string quintets. Next is an Allegretto grazioso, again the marvelous use of the two cellos gives the dance-like movement a dignity and weight that prevents it from becoming a light scherzo. In the attractive and buoyant finale, there is none of Brahms to be heard as the music bounces along with great verve.


Certainly Brahms fans will rejoice in a work of this quality which is so infused with the spirit of the great master. Brahms himself recognized that what Dessoff had written was no mere imitation but a masterly creation which fused Brahmsian musical language with Dessoff's own original melodies and treatment.


In addition, we are pleased to offer this Quintet in a version for 2 Violins, Violas, Cello and Bass. Our bass part was made by Anthony Scelba, noted bass soloist, Professor of Music and Director of the Concert Artists Program of Kean University. Professor Scelba has created an idiomatic bass part that adds breadth and clarity to the timbral spectrum of the work, making it a welcome addition to the double bass chamber music repertoire.


Out of print for well over a century, we are pleased to make this fine work available once again. It deserves to be heard in concert and will also be enjoyed by amateurs.


(A) 2 Violins, Viola & 2 Cellos-Parts $29.95
(B) 2 Violins, Viola, Cello & Bass-Parts $29.95
(C) All Six Parts $36.95


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