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George Onslow

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String Quintet No.16 in E Major, Op.39

For 2 Violins, Viola & 2 Cellos or 2 Violins 2 Violas & Cello

During his lifetime, Onslow, above all, was known as the composer of string quintets for 2 violins, viola and 2 cellos. With the exception of Boccherini, all of the other major composers before him, including Mozart and Beethoven, wrote string quintets for 2 violins, 2 violas and cello. (Schubert's great work remained undiscovered until 1850 and unknown for another decade after that.) Schumann and Mendelssohn ranked Onslow's chamber music with that of Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. George Onslow (1784-1853), certainly illustrates the fickleness of fame. He was born 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.  As tastes changed 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.

String Quintet No.16, Op.39 dates 1830 and is the last work from the composer's middle period. It enjoyed considerable popularity throughout the 19th century and was often performed. The respected critic Alfred Dauger after attending a concert where it was performed wrote as follows:

“One is impressed not only by the quality of the music but also by the originality of the melodies of this fine work. Onslow has mastered the might Viennese sound. The Largo introduction to the first movement, Allegro spirituoso, is particularly effective with the interplay between the first violin and second cello. One is further impressed by the beautiful style, the charming detail and nobility of the Adagio grandioso which comes next, while off beat character of the main theme to the third movement, Menuetto allegretto, with its the echo effect is particularly striking. The finale, Allegretto, is also noteworthy accompaniment effects. What grace and melodic verve!"

This is another of Onslow's fine string quintets. Our edition is based on the Probst edition, however, we have made several changes and improvements making the work easier to play and to perform

 

(A) 2 Violins, Viola & 2 Cellos-Parts $29.95
(B) 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello-Parts $29.95
(C) All Six Parts $36.95

 

 

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