String Quartet in g minor, Op.24 No.3--New Edition
Franz Krommer (1759-1831) was born in town of Kamnitz then part of the Habsburg Austrian Empire (today Kamenice in the Czech Republic) It had a mixed population of Germans and Czechs and though baptized František Vincenc Kramář by the time he was 15, Krommer began using the Germanized version of his name for the rest of his life, the name by which he beame known to the world. Krommer was one of the most successful composers in Vienna at the turn of the 18th Century. His reputation was attested to by the fact that his works were frequently republished throughout Germany, England, France, Italy, Scandinavia and even the United States. According to several contemporary sources he was regarded with Haydn as the leading composer of string quartets and as a serious rival of Beethoven. Krommer was a violinist of considerable ability who came to Vienna around 1785. For the following 10 years he held appointments at various aristocratic courts in Hungary. He returned to Vienna in 1795 where he remained until his death, holding various positions including that of Court Composer (Hofmusiker) to the Emperor, Franz I, an enthusiastic quartet player. He was the last composer to hold this august title and one of his duties was accompanying the Emperor on his various campaigns so that he could relax in the evenings playing quartets.
There are more than 300 compositions which were at one time or another published, much of which is chamber music. He wrote more than 70 string quartets, 35 quintets, perhaps as many as 15 string trios, but also several works for winds and strings. Of the string quartets, the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann, in his Handbook for String Quartet Players writes, “Krommer knew how to write for string instruments and as a result what he wrote sounds brilliant.” Among his dozens of quartets, Altmann singles out Krommer’s Op.24 as particularly fine and effective. He considered them on a par with those of Haydn and noted that each of the instruments is given grateful parts and solos, and violinists in particular can always learn something from playing the works of Krommer.
Op.24 No.3 in g minor was last of a set of three published around 1800 in Vienna. In all likelihood, they were composed a few years before this. In four movements, it opens with an engaging Allegro and is followed by a lovely and deeply felt Adagio. Next comes a thumping Menuetto full of chromaticism for which Krommer was well-known. The trio is particularly effective. The rousing finale, Rondo alla Ungarese, reflects the many years Krommer spent in Hungary working as music director for several Hungarian princes.
Here is a work which would make a great program choice as an alternative to the inevitable Haydn or Mozart. Our new edition is based on the 1801 Vienna edition and should interest both professionals and amateurs alike.