String Quartet No.1 in g minor, Op.21
Writing about Klengel's chamber music in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music, the famous critic and musicologist Hugo Leichtentritt noted:
“In his trios, quartets and sonatas, the hand of a very skillful, cultivated musician is to be recognized. He writes in the characteristic "Leipzig Style" of about 1880-1890, mingling classical and romantic traits.”
And Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players adds:
“Klengel's Op.21 String Quartet, which was published in 1888, is a solid piece of work, tonally beautiful and good to play."
Julius Klengel (1859 –1933) was born in the German city of Leipzig. He came from a musical family. His father was a keen amateur player and his grandfather was a composer. For several years, no less than 7 members of the Klengel family played in the famous Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. A gifted cellist, Julius Klengel enjoyed a career as a soloist, orchestral player, teacher and composer. He served for more than 40 years as the principal cellist of the LGO and also became a professor of cello at the Leipzig Conservatory. Among his many students were Emanuel Feuermann, Guilhermina Suggia, Paul Grümmer, Gregor Piatigorsky, and William Pleeth.
In four movements, the work opens with a genial but full-blooded and tonally rich Brahmsian Allegro non troppo. The second movement, Thema con variazione, is a theme and set of six variations. The theme is simple but beautiful, perhaps of folk melody origin. The viola and cello are each given the lead in separate variations and the concluding variation is a whirlwind scherzo. Although the third movement is titled Scherzo, it is really more like an exotic intermezzo, complete with a touch of the orient. The finale, Allegro, is a kind of lopsided tarantella, playful and full of high spirits.
Long unavailable, we are pleased to reintroduce it. It should be at home both on the concert stage and on the music stands of amateurs players.