String Quintet No.2 in a minor, Op.51
For 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello, Bass Ad libitum
Mayseder’s String Quintet No.2 in a minor, Op.51, is the second of five Grand Quintettos that he wrote for 2 violins, 2 violas and cello. However, in each instance, he included a bass part so that the work could be performed as a sextet if so desired. The quintet dates from around 1835 and is in four movements. The work opens with an exciting Allegro agitato, which is stormy and dramatic, capturing the listener’s attention immediately. A short, bucolic Andante interlude, reminscent of Rossini, interrupts affairs but as it comes to a peaceful close, an Allegro explodes upon the scene like a cloudburst. The music is thrilling and operatic in manner, full of compelling melody. The second movement, a lovely Adagio, is primarily calm and lyrical providing a respite from the turbulent first movement. Next comes a bumptious, hard driving Scherzo with a charmingly contrasting trio section. The work topped off with a breathtaking Allegro vivace full of excitement from start to finish.
Joseph Mayseder (1789-1863) was born in Vienna. He began to study the violin at an early age and was quickly recognized as a child prodigy and was therefore turned over to the most famous violinists and teachers then in Vienna, Paul and Anton Wranitzky and Ignaz Schuppanzigh. He also studied composition with Emanuel Aloys Förster. At the age of 21, he was appointed concertmaster of the Vienna Court Opera and subsequently was appointed soloist of the K. und K. (Royal and Imperial) orchestra, which he later conducted. He was not only considered one of the finest violin soloists of his day, but also chaired Vienna’s leading string quartet. In addition to this, he was a respected composer, mainly of chamber music, whose works achieved great popularity not only in his lifetime but right up until the First World War. He was a sought after teacher and the famous soloist. Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst numbered among his students.
This is a quintet which will bring down the house if performed in concert and it is not beyond amateur players. We feel it deserves to be rescued from obscurity and have reprinted a very clean edition from 1850 but also adding rehearsal letters. Long out of print, we think it will be of interest to amateurs and professionals alike. Though written as a quintet, Mayseder created a substantial bass part which can be added if desired.