String Quartet in C Major, Op.1
"Here is a work, full of charm, fine writing, which makes a good impression upon an audience and is fun to play, presenting no technical problems beyond the scope of the average experienced amateur player. And yet, it disappeared like so many others of its kind. The quartet was composed during 1891-1892 and entered into the 1893 Competition sponsored by the Russian Musical Society where the judges, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky Korsakov awarded it a prize for excellence. The opening movement, Allegro commodo, features appealing melodies at a comfortable tempo. Nothing hurried everything cleverly executed. The second movement despite its tempo marking, Allegro, is a really a more relaxed kind of scherzo with fine contrasting trio in the minor. A slow movement, Andantino, starts off with a folkloric melody which by turns becomes romantic and then dreamy. The finale, Allegro, begins with a bright melody in the first violin over the pulsing double stops of the viola. A second subject is a rustic peasant dance then followed by a dark melody in the viola with a striking rhythmic accompaniment. Well conceived from start to finish."---The Editor of the Chamber Music Handbook.
Victor Ewald (1860-1935) was born in the then Russian capital of St. Petersburg and lived most of his life there. At the surprisingly young age of 12, he entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he studied cello with the famous virtuoso Karl Davidov and composition with Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov and Nikolai Sokolov. He pursued a dual career as a professor of civil engineering and as a musician. He served for 20 years as the cellist of the famous Belaiev String Quartet (see our webpage on Les Vendredis) and composed a string quartet which was awarded a prize in a quartet competition whose judges were Tchaikovsky and Rimsky Korsakov. In addition to this quartet, he wrote a string quintet and 5 quintets for brass instruments. Today, if he is remembered at all, it is for these brass quintets which are often performed and have been recorded several times.
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