String Quartet No.1 in c minor, Op.27
"The First String Quartet is again a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ which deserves a more speedy awakening.”—Wilhelm Altmann writing in Cobbett Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music.
In his own Handbook for String Quartet Players, Altmann describes it in some detail: ”Draeseke’s First String Quartet was composed in 1880 and published in 1885. The opening movement, Allegro risolutio, is quite fresh and vigorous. It quickly gives way to a more lyrical, cantabile second theme. Of particular note is a delicate question and answer dialogue between the cello and first violin. The second movement, Largo, is dominated by the lovely melodies which are introduced in the first section. The restless and quicker middle section provides excellent contrast. The first subject of the third movement, Menuetto, allegro moderato, is powerful and thrusting, while the attractive second theme is tender. The trio section, which he entitles Intermezzo, is noteworthy for the transparency of the writing, which is further enhanced by principally giving the cello the lead. The finale, Presto con fuoco, is particularly effective with its exceptionally fine contrast between the passionate, yearning main theme and the almost religious, chorale-like second subject. Here we can see the composer has mastery of quartet technique. It is a quartet which is good to hear and play."
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.
We wish to thank Walter Willinganz and the Interlochen Center for the Arts for making the parts to the 1885 Kistner first edition available to us.
Parts & Score: $31.95