Quintet in B flat Major, Op.48
For Violin, Viola, Violoncello, Horn and Piano
Felix Draeseke (1835-1913) was born in the German city of Coburg. He began composing at an early age and subsequently entered the famous Leipzig Conservatory where he studied composition with Julius Rietz and piano with Ignaz Moscheles. However, his musical outlook was shaped and influenced by the so-called New German School of which Liszt and Wagner were the leading proponents. He held a number of teaching positions in Switzerland and Germany, eventually settling in the city of Dresden and a few years later began teaching at the Dresden Conservatory. He wrote in nearly every genre and his works were frequently performed during his lifetime. Liszt was a champion of many of Draeseke’s compositions and helped them gain publication.
The Op.48 Quintet for String Trio, Horn and Piano was completed in 1888. The opening movement, Allegro con brio ma non troppo vivace, begins with a short energetic chordal introduction, perhaps aimed at gaining the audience's attention. The lovely main theme theme, first heard in the violin, is quite lyrical. We later learn as the work progresses that the chordal introduction is actually a motif which makes its appearance again at the beginning of the finale as well as at other points in the quintet. The opening melody to the second movement, marked Andante grave, is not particularly tragic but has a questioning quality. Then comes a heavy march-like, subject with a pounding rhythmic foot-step. Throughout the movement it is interspersed with sweet and singing melodic interludes which provide a strong contrast. The third movement, Presto leggiero, is a lively, dance like scherzo. A slower, dreamy trio section provides fine contrast. The finale, Allegro con brio, begins with same chordal progression which began the work. However, the main subject, a jovial and buoyant melody which follows is entirely different. The music remains bright and sunny throughout, no cloud darkens the celebratory mood. The work comes to end with an elaboration of the final set of notes from the opening chords.
This fine work, one of the very best for this combination, has been out of print for a century. We are very pleased to make it available again and warmly recommend it to both professionals and amateurs.