String Quartet No.18 in e minor
Donizetti (1797-1848) was born in Bergamo, Italy of humble origins. His father was an assistant at the village pawnshop. In 1806, at the age of 9, he was able to attend a charitable school and there met the then famous composer, Simone Mayr, who became his mentor and lifelong friend. Donizetti is well-known, of course, as a composer for the opera. However, many will be surprised to learn that he did write a fair amount of chamber music, including 18 string quartets, some string quintets, piano trios, and an octet for winds and strings along with several other instrumental works.
Donizetti's 18th and last string quartet dates from 1836. By this time, his style had completely matured and he had already composed some of his most famous operas. This quartet, like the earlier ones, shows the influence of his being primarily a composer for the opera, and like them it is written in an operatic and dramatic style but not one which is unsuited to the medium. It is thought that Donizetti composed this quartet for his wife Virginia who was a fine violinist but there is no dedication on the manuscript. Donizetti was so fond of the exciting Allegro, which serves as the first movement, that he recycled it as the overture to his opera Linda di Chamounix. One can hear the "force of destiny" which is characterized by the military beat which is repeated throughout. The following Adagio has an almost religious quality to it. Its elegiac mood may in part be due to the fact that Donizetti's parents had both recently died. The third movement, Minuetto, presto is actually an lively scherzo. The trio section is straight out of the opera, a very lovely and bravura aria is sung by the first violin. Verdi may well have based the great cantabile movement to his quartet on this one. The finale, Allegro giusto, is a superb, military polacca, captivating and full of energy. This quartet will certainly appeal to amateurs everywhere and deserves to be heard in concert.
We are pleased to present an all new edition, the first in nearly half a century. Donizetti's quartets remained unpublished until well into the 20th century, although they circulated among cognoscenti in manuscript form throughout most of the 19th. Our edition is based on one of the manuscript copies Donizetti brought with him when he visited Vienna in 1842. Edited by R.H.R. Silvertrust, our edition has corrected several errors which appeared in earlier editions and removed the false treble from the cello part.
Parts & Score: $36.95