Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf
String Quintet (2 Cellos) No.3 in C Major, Kr.187
Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739-1799) was born in Vienna and was recognized as a child prodigy on the violin and one of the great violin virtuosos of the 18th century. The first part of his life was spent as a touring virtuoso and in especially in Italy he enjoyed many triumphs. The second half of his life was spent as a composer and music director at various aristocratic courts. His output voluminous and he is generally regarded after Mozart and Haydn as one of the most important representatives of the Vienna Classical era. Originally, his music showed the influence of the Italian composers but as time went by his familiarity with the compositions of Mozart and Haydn greatly changed his compositional style. He knew both men personally and the three of them sometimes performed string quartets in Vienna along with Vanhal. Dittersdorf played first violin, Haydn second violin, Mozart viola and Vanhal played cello.
In 1789, Dittersdorf visited the cello-playing King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm and presented him with a set of 6 string quintets for 2 violins, viola and 2 cellos. He was not the first composer to present works to the king. Haydn, Mozart and Ignaz Pleyel among others had all presented string quartets to the king. Dittersdorf’s quintets seem to be the only example of quintets for 2 cellos given to the king and, with the exception of those of Boccherini, are among the earliest quintets for 2 cellos. The String Quintet in C Major is the third of the set. Dittersdorf seemed partial to the three movement format. In this quintet, he eliminates the minuet. In all three movements—–Allegro molto, Andante con moto, a Theme and set of four variations—–, the first cello is given several opportunities to present the expressive melodies---and a traditional Allemande.
This is a very useful addition to the cello quintet literature and is, along the others from the set, virtually the only one from the middle classical era. Ours is the only edition with rehearsal letters.