Joseph Martin Kraus
String Quartet No.8 "The Farewell" in D Major
Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-92) was born in the German town of Miltenberg am Main. He studied violin and piano from a number of local teachers. At the age of 21, he moved to Sweden to make his fortune for the Swedish king was known as a great music lover. He eventually succeeded in gaining the king's favor and was given the chance to travel abroad at the king's expense. During this trip he met Gluck, Albrechtsberger, Mozart and Haydn, all of whom were impressed by his music. Some scholars believe that he may have studied with Haydn. In any case, Haydn's quartets clearly served as Kraus’ model, although Kraus did not slavishly copy the Master. For example, Kraus rarely adopted the four movement format that Haydn used. He wrote at least 8 string quartets. Many of Kraus' quartets were given names such as The Hunt, The Farewell or The Spring Quartet, after his death by his publisher. The numbering of the quartets is also not his and perhaps not accurate.
"String Quartet No.8 in D Major, 'The Farewell' is one of his more ambitious quartets and judging from the writing, right from the opening bars of the first movement, Allegro. it is one of his more mature works. The melodic material is on a par with Haydn's Opp.54/55 quartets. The part-writing is accomplished as Kraus brings the cello to the forefront offering it 3 solos. In the following Larghetto, which is a theme followed by a set of 4 variations, the cello, alone of the three lower voices is given the lead for an entire variation.. The theme is sad and perhaps this is why his publisher christened it the ‘Farewell” quartet. The closing Allegro molto is lively. This quartet could be played in concert as an alternative to Haydn or for historical purposes and can be recommended to amateurs.---The Chamber Music Journal