String Quartet in f minor, Op.1 No.3
Hyacinthe Jadin (1776-1800) was born in Versailles where his father was a musician in the Royal Orchestra. He was one of five musically gifted brothers, the most famous of which was Louis-Emmanuel Jadin. His first lessons were from his father and Louis-Emmanuel who was four years his senior. Later he was sent to Paris where he studied with Hüllmandel, who had been a student of C.P.E. Bach. The French Revolution put an end to his studies as his teacher fled France. He eked out a living as a pianist and brief taught at the Paris Conservatory. Because of his early death, he did not achieve the same fame as Louis-Emmanuel but the famous music critic Fetis wrote that his chamber music was of a very high standard and deserved to be better known.
The Op.1 string quartets, which were dedicated to Haydn, were composed in 1795 and published shortly thereafter. At that time, and up until 1814, there were no public chamber music concerts in France. Chamber music was exclusively and privately performed at the palaces and homes of the wealthy and the kind of string quartets then in vogue were the so called quatuors brillants of Rudolfe Kreuter and Pierre Rode, which were essentially a showcase for the first violin. Jadin's Op.1 quartets are not quatuors brillants, but closer to the style of Haydn to whom they are dedicated. Further, while they represent a French version of the Sturm und Drang movement, the also anticipate the stylistic developments of the kind made by Schubert in the early 19th century.
Op.1 No.3, the third quartet of the set, is perhaps the most striking because of its unusual Menuet and its finale, a Polacca and its fine treatment of the cello which was very rare for the time, especially in France. The opening movement, Allegro moderato, opens with an brooding theme in the first violin. The second theme is an interesting conversation between the first violin and the cello. The second movement, though marked Menuet, is really something else altogether, and certainly not a dance, with its slow, haunting unisono melody doubled and played in octaves. It is only in the trio section that we hear a more traditional rendering. A dignified Adagio with a long-lined main theme and interesting contrapuntal treatment comes next. The finale, is a brilliantly scored Polacca which holds the listener's attention from start to finish.
Not only is this an historically important work, but it is also a fine choice for the concert hall, not to mention the stands of amateur quartet players. Our new edition is based on the original published in Paris by the Magazin de Musique in 1796.