String Quartet in d minor
Frederick Ouseley (1825-1889) was born in London into a minor noble family, his father was a baronet. It is reported that he was a child prodigy who composed a complete opera at the age of 8. He took a divinity degree at Oxford at entered the ministry. Though drawn to music, it was, at the time, thought unseemly for an English nobleman to be a composer. However, his strong love of music eventually led him back to Oxford where he studied for and received a bachelor's and doctor's degree in music. He subsequently became Professor of Music at Oxford and divided his time between teaching at church work, working as vicar. Most of his compositions were for the church. But he did compose at least two string quartets.
His Quartet in d minor was published in 1868 but mostly likely composed several years earlier. Musical tastes at the time in Victorian England were rather conservative with Mendelssohn dominating musical thought. Ouseley's own musical taste was also rather conservative and his quartets hark back to the early romantic and late classical eras. Nonetheless, the quartets are very well written with appealing melodies and good part-writing.
The opening movement begins with a brief Adagio introduction which leads to the main section Allegro moderato in which each of the instruments is given a chance to develop the thematic material. The charming second movement, Andante cantabile, has the aura of a folk melody. A typical Scherzo vivace with a country dance-like trio section serves as the third movement. The finale, Rondo allegro, is a light-hearted romp.
No one would pretend this is a great masterwork, however, it historically important because very little English chamber music from the early and mid Victorian era is known or has survived. Further, the fact it is so nicely written with appealing melodies and solos for all makes this a fine choice for amateur quartets looking for a performance work. Even better yet, it presents no technical difficulties. It's been out of print for a very long time and we are pleased to make it available once again.
Parts & Score: $31.95