Heinrich von Herzogenberg
String Quartet No.5 in f minor, Op.63
"Herzogenberg was a composer of great refinement. He in his way was an original thinker and a musician of genuine emotional and poetic qualities. His chamber compositions in particular stand out among his hundred or more published works, for they are not only masterly from the technical point of view, but interesting on the intellectual side. "---the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann
The Austrian composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900) has sometimes been attacked as nothing more than a pale imitation of Brahms, of whom he was a great admirer. There is no denying that his music sometimes shows the influence of Brahms, however, listeners and players alike have discovered that it is original and fresh, notwithstanding the influence of Brahms. Most of his chamber is first rate and Brahms might well have wished he had written some of it. Toward the of his life, Brahms, who was not in the habit of praising other composers publicly, wrote of Herzogenberg, whom he had often harshly criticized in the past, “Herzogenberg is able to do more than any of the others."
"Herzogenberg's last string quartet, No.5, was composed in 1889 while he was living in Berlin and serving as the head of the composition department of the Prussian Royal Academy of Music. It is dedicated to the Joachim Quartet, perhaps the most famous ensemble of its type at that time. It is an interesting work for several reasons. Unlike certain other works, the spirit of Brahms is nowhere to be found. Instead, one hears a composer who has returned to Beethoven and his Late String Quartets, especially so in the first movement which begins with a lengthy Lento introduction which is full of foreboding and a dramatic, sense of brooding created by his use of tremolo. In the riveting main section of the movement, Allegro moderato, several impassioned outbursts serve to interrupt the impassioned melodic material, a la Late Beethoven. A second interesting feature of this work is that it only has three movements, unusual for the time. The middle movement, an flowing Andante, is essentially lyrical and song-like. Although there is no scherzo, the finale, a Vivace, certainly could have served as one had Herzogenberg so desired. It is a bumptious and harried ride over rough countryside in 6/8 time. Later in what appears to be a recapitulation, a heavily accented hunting motif is introduced. ---The Chamber Music Journal
This is another fine work from the late Romantic era which deserves attention both by professionals and amateurs. Long out of print, we are pleased to reintroduce it, and hope that it will find its way on your music stands.