String Quartet No.1 in G Major, Op.21
Constantin Dimitrescu (1847-1928) is without doubt one of Romania's most important composers from its late romantic period. Born in Blejoi-Prahova, a small town not far from Bucharest, he was taken to the capital at an early age once his musical talent was recognized. There he studied cello and composition with the best teachers available. Funds were subsequently made available for him to continue his education in Vienna and then later in Paris where he studied with, among others, the famous cello virtuoso Auguste Franchomme. Upon his return to Bucharest, he became principal cellist of the Bucharest Philharmonic and also of the National Theater Orchestra. In later years, he served as conductor for both. He was also engaged as a professor at the Bucharest Conservatory.
Despite his many occupations and duties, Dimitrescu nevertheless found time to compose orchestral and operatic works as well as chamber music. In fact, it was his great love of chamber music which led him to found Bucharest's first permanent string quartet. He served as its cellist for many years. Thus it comes as no surprise to find that throughout his long musical life, Dimitrescu composed string quartets, seven in all.
String Quartet No.1 dates from 1883. It is full of tuneful melodies which, particularly in the outer movements, are presented in quite an exciting fashion. The opening Allegro moderato begins with a stately theme which soon picks up momentum. The following Adagio non troppo, which serves as the slow movement, is really more in the nature of an intermezzo. The title and tempo marking to the third movement, Moderato, is somewhat misleading in that the music is clearly a brisk and somewhat muscular minuet. It is in the excellent finale, Allegro moderato, that Dimitrescu clearly demonstrates his compositional skills. The development of the fetching and joyful main theme undergoes several changes and even includes a fugue. This fine quartet is only of modest technical difficulty and should be of especial interest to amateur quartet players.