String Quartet No.4 in g minor, Op.38
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.4 in g minor dates from 1889 and is in four movements. The opening Allegro moderato, begins with a searching melody in the first violin over a pulsing accompaniment. Tension is built until the introduction of a brighter dance-like theme. The striking second movement, Adagio non troppo, has for its main theme a sad, peaceful subject. Slowly the moving accompaniment in the cello builds suspense until suddenly a powerful, driving Romanian episode interrupts proceeds, only to fade away with the return of the main theme over a muted tremolo accompaniment. Next comes a straight forward Menuetto, harking back to the classical era. The finale, Allegro un poco agitato, starts off with an exotic, orientale dance theme. It is followed by a operatic theme which has tinges of Rossini.
Here is another very fetching string quartet with appealing melodies and fine part writing, but it is only of modest technical difficulty and should be of especial interest to amateur quartet players.