George Onslow

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String Quartet No.18 in D Major, Op.36 No.3

Here is what The Chamber Music Journal had to say about this quartet:


"It is fruitless to talk about ‘bests’ and ‘strongests’ however, it is surely fair to say that String Quartet No.18, Op.36 No.3 in D belongs in the first rank of not just Onslow’s quartets but of the literature as a whole. The opening Allegro vivace begins with a jaunty, song-like tune played in a canon. No sooner do the lower voices finish the canon than the second theme bursts forth with tremendous forward energy. A very exciting movement. An Andante non troppo lento follows. This features a simple country melody which Onslow elegantly embellishes. The Minuetto Allegretto is a scherzo par excellence, of the sort for which Mendelssohn became famous. The catchy, syncopated first theme is developed with military modulations. The dazzling conclusion to this outstanding movement is the equal of the most famous scherzos. The light, buoyant Finale, Presto is yet another gem which strikes just the right touch. This wonderful quartet belongs in everyone’s collection. "


Perhaps no composer, more than George Onslow (1784-1853), illustrates the fickleness of fame. Onslow was born and lived his entire life in France, the son of an English father and French mother. His 36 string quartets and 34 string quintets were, during his own lifetime and up to the end of the 19th century, held in the highest regard, particularly in Germany, Austria and England where he was regularly placed in the front rank of composers. His work was admired by both Beethoven and Schubert, the latter modeling his own 2 cello quintet (D.956) on those of Onslow and not, as is so often claimed, on those of Boccherini. Schumann, perhaps the foremost music critic during the first part of the 19th century, regarded Onslow’s chamber music on a par with that of Mozart. Haydn and Beethoven. Mendelssohn was also of this opinion. Publishers such as Breitkopf & Härtel and Kistner were among many which competed to bring out his works. Such was Onslow’s reputation that he  was elected to succeed Cherubini as Director of the prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts, based on the excellence of his chamber music and this, in an “Opera Mad France”, which had little regard for chamber music. However, after the First World War, his music, along with that of so many other fine composers, fell into oblivion and up until 1984, the bicentennial of his birth, he remained virtually unknown. Since then, his music, to the delight of players and listeners alike, is slowly being rediscovered, played and recorded. Onslow’s writing was unique in that he was successfully able to merge the drama of the opera into the chamber music idiom perfected by the Vienna masters.

Our edition is a reprint of the original Breitkopf & Härtel edition, however, we have added rehearsal numbers and corrected the few mistakes which it had.

Parts: $22.95




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