String Quartet No.3 in B flat Major, Op.24 No.3
Carl Loewe, (1796-1869) was born in the German town of Löbejün near the city of Halle. He studied composition and voice with Daniel Türk and Johann Reichardt. He enjoyed a career as a baritone soloist, composer and as long-time music director of the German city of Stettin (since 1945 Sczezin in Poland). Much admired by Wagner and Mendelssohn, he was renowned for his over 400 art songs and ballads and was often called the 'Schubert of the North'. It is for his vocal works that he is remembered, but he did write instrumental music including symphonies, concertos, a piano trio praised by Schumann and four string quartets.
String Quartet No.3 in B flat Major is the last of a set of three quartets which are relatively early works dating from 1821. The opening Allegro con grazia has for its main theme a lyrical and gracious melody. Soon however, Loewe's penchant for interesting rhythms takes the music in another direction. These two competing ideas alternate with each other throughout the movement. Next comes a Largo which begins in a solemn Bachian vein, the use of trills accenting the baroque atmosphere. Yet, the lyricism of the Romantic movement takes over with the appearance of the lovely second theme. The interesting third movement, Menuetto, allegro agitato, is a heavily accented affair, thrusting powerfully forward, only loosely clothed in the garb of a minuet. The trio section with its slower and delicate melody provides superb contrast and yet we hear vague echoes of the rhythm from the first section. The finale, Allegro, opens with an upward whirling passage which leads to the exciting main theme. Rather than developing it, Loewe chooses to immediately introduce the slower, choral-like second subject. The two themes alternate with telling effect.
Loewe speaks with his own voice. Building on Haydn and Mozart, he moves forward into the early Romanic era, sounding like no one else. Particularly telling is his feel for rhythm. We think this is a work which would do well on the concert stage as a replacement for the oft heard Viennese classical masters or early Beethoven and it should be pleasing to amateurs as well. Long out of print, we are pleased to make it available once again.