String Quintet in d minor
For 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello
Koessler wrote his vibrant String Quintet in d minor at the age of 60. Of this work, the famous music critic Wilhelm Altmann, in his Chamber Music Handbook, wrote:
"Hans Koessler, a kindred spirit of Brahms and a master of composition, published his string quintet in 1913. The work is characterized by its richness of ideas. One's interest increases from movement to movement, although it must be admitted, that it already begins with a very captivating first movement, Allegro appassionato. The economy of style is magnificent with not one unnecessary note. The first theme, a swinging, urgent melody, exhibits uncommon strength and already one thinks that he cannot follow this with a second theme of the same strength while at the same time creating the necessary contrast. Yet, that is exactly what he accomplishes. This theme is a lyrical somewhat dance-like folk melody, which begins in a gentle fashion but gradually build to a tremendous climax. The movement is brought to a close with a magnificent coda with an effective use of tremolo in the second viola. A solemn Adagio comes next and begins in an atmosphere of pious devotion, but soon doubt and anxiety gain the upper hand. The high point comes at the conclusion in which a spirit of peace and holiness are restored. The third movement, a Scherzo, begins with a wanton, and at times, coarse Bavarian melody, the middle sections consists of a gentler, lovely folk tune. Here, the use of tonality is original-sounding and highly effective. The main theme to the excellent finale, a well-constructed rondo, is a frolicking affair, with a momentary doff of the cap and a brief Hungarian quote from his friend Brahms. The second theme is more introspective, but with a swinging second part. A third theme brings the first viola to the front with a rich melody. The tonal combination is striking and magnificently executed. In this superb quintet, all of the voices are given good parts which are not only grateful to play but also sound really well. Though a concert hall must, amateurs will also delight in it."
Hans Koessler (1853-1926) is a master composer who wrote some of the most outstanding music that you have never heard. Koessler was born in Waldbeck in upper Bavaria. He studied organ and composition with Joseph Rheinberger in Munich. He held a number of positions in Germany before finally taking up the position of Professor of Organ, Composition and Choral direction at the Music Academy of Budapest in the early 1880's. He stayed there until his retirement in 1908. Bartok, Kodaly, Dohnanyi, Leo Weiner and Imre Kalman were all among his many students and he was widely regarded as the finest teacher of composition in Austria-Hungary during the 1890's and the first part of the 20th century.
Koessler's works were never catalogued and were usually published without any opus number. We need add no recommendation of this work as Altmann's says it all. It has been out of print for well over 50 years, and we hope by making it available again, it will find its way on to the music stands of professionals and amateurs alike.