String Sextet in e minor, Op.25
“Heinrich Hofmann, who during his lifetime was a very popular composer, has left us a tonally beautiful and finely written Sextet. Composed in 1874, it shows the influence of both Mendelssohn and Wagner. The Sextet will be especially prized by amateurs chamber music players for its wonderful treatment of all of the instruments, which have grateful parts to play. The first movement, Allegro appassionato, features two bold but lyrically melodic themes which are cleverly developed and presented. The second movement, Adagio, is an elegiac romance. The third movement, Vivace, is a scherzo with an appealing middle section. The finale, an Allegro, not only features an effective fugue but has a charming Irish folk tune for its second subject."—–The famous critic and scholar Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Chamber Music Handbook.
Heinrich Hofmann (1842-1902) was born in Berlin and studied there at the Neue Akademie der Tonkunst with the Theodor Kullak and Siegfried Dehn. At first, he embarked upon a career as a pianist and teacher. However, by the late 1860's, his operas and his choral and orchestral works began to achieve great success and for the next two decades, he was one of the most often performed composers in Germany and much of Europe. Success came at a price. Although hailed by some critics, such as Hermann Mendel, as a of real talent and one of the most important emerging composers of his time, many others, jealous of his rocketing success or determined to protect their favorites (such as Eduard Hanslick was of Brahms), derided him for his "fashionable eclecticism". While his works broke no new ground, on the other hand, they were masterfully conceived, beautiful and well-executed. This is especially true of his chamber music. Besides this Serenade, he has Piano Quartet, a Piano Trio, a String Sextet, and an Octet to his credit.
This beautiful Sextet, out of print for over a century, will surely appeal to professionals and amateurs alike with its gorgeous melodies and excellent part-writing. It is fun to hear and to play and should be in the front rank of string sextets from the mid-romantic era.