String Quintet in F Major
For 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello
"Superb, fresh and despite all of its academic prowess, it is direct and beautiful."---Wilhelm Peterson-Berger writing in the influential Dagens Nyheter upon the premiere in 1906.
And Peterson-Berger was probably Sweden's most severe music critic, rarely offering praise for new works. So why then have we never heard of this quintet. The answer is that it was composed in 1870 and remained in manuscript until 1906 when it was finally published. By then, it was considered "old fashioned" and rather than regarding this fine work as a newly found treasure from the past, it was dismissed and consigned to oblivion.
Johan Lindegren (1842-1908) was the son of an impoverished farmer from southern Sweden who was never really able to make a living as a composer. For much of his life, he eked out what money he made from directing the chorus of the Royal Stockholm Opera and by composing salon music to order which others signed. Despite his commercial failure, his technical mastery was nonetheless eventually recognized by the Swedish academic establishment and he taught at several schools including the Royal Conservatory in Stockholm.
"The String Quintet in F Major (2 violas) dates from 1870 and may be his only chamber music composition. Published in 1907, it is a massive piece lasting over 35 minutes. In four movements, the opening Allegro non troppo, begins in a genial vein. An exciting, but brief, second theme appears twice. Occasionally, there is a French feel to the music, which surprisingly sounds 30 years ahead of its time. There is an incredible wealth of musical ideas to be found in this quintet and makes rather good use of the violas. Next comes a Romans-Andantino poco allegretto. It begins in a straight forward fashion, but turns out to quite unusual and full of atmosphere and bizarre effects. This is highly original writing. The third movement, Adagio con devosione, is long because it is painted with broad themes on a large scale. The effective finale, Allegro vivace, is full of fugues and other devices that show off the composer’s technical mastery.”---The Chamber Music Journal