String Quartet No.2 in f# minor, Op.1 No.2
Friedrich Ernst Fesca (1789-1826) was born in the German town of Magdeburg. He studied piano and violin with several different teachers, including for a short time Ludwig Spohr. By age 16 had already obtained a position as a violinist in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Not long after, he was employed as solo violinist to the Court of Jerome Bonaparte, at that time, King of Westphalia. After this he lived for a while in Vienna where he befriended the famous violinist, Ignaz Schuppanzigh, first violinist of the famous Beethoven Razumovsky String Quartet. His final years were spent working in Karlsruhe along with fellow composer Franz Danzi. He composed in nearly every genre from opera to solo piano works, however, the bulk of his out put was chamber music.
His friend and contemporary, Carl Maria von Weber, writing of Fesca’s chamber music, had this to say. “Mr. Fesca is completely master of whatever he undertakes to express. I am fully convinced of his remarkable talent. His works are carefully written, thoroughly elaborated and richly flavored." Spohr, upon hearing a performance of one of the Op.1 string quartets called a fine work full of talent.
String Quartet No.2 opens with a deliberate and articulated Allegro, which gradually turns into a tuneful and swinging melody. The second movement, Andante con moto, has for its main theme a beautiful choral, religious theme of exquisite delicacy. An original-sounding sycopated Scherzando, with its catchy syncopated part in the bass line is captvating. The finale, Allegro non troppo, consists of a theme and several very fine variations, each providing an excellent contrast with the one which precedes it.
Fesca’s tuneful works were popular through out most of the first half of the 19th century, but like so many other good pieces disappeared for no real discernable reason. We are pleased to reintroduce an early quartet which certainly makes an excellent alternative to the inevitable Haydn or Mozart.
Originally published in 1806 in by French publishers, there have been no subsequent editions. Our edition is a reprint of the original, which lacked any rehearsal letters. We have added rehearsal letters, cleaned it up and made corrections where required. However, readers should be aware of two things: 1) Even brand new editions of music printed before 1860 were never as readable as modern editions. 2) We were working off of a piece of music over 200 years old. Nothing that old is ever pristine. However, our reprint is a performance edition with proper page turns and quite readable.