String Quartet in g minor, Op.18
"I warmly recommend this work for performance. There is much fine writing here without any real technical difficulties."---Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.
Riccardo Pick-Mangiagalli (1882-1949) was born in the town of Strakonice, today in the Czech Republic but at the time of his birth part of the Austrian Empire. His father was Czech, his mother Italian. He studied piano and composition at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan and then continued his studies in Prague and later in Vienna with Richard Strauss. He initally pursued a career as a concert pianist, but later devoted himself entirely to composition and teaching, eventually becoming director of the Milan Conservatory. Not surprisingly, given his background and education, his music is cosmopolitan combining various influences including late Viennese Romanticism with elements of French Impressionism.
His String Quartet was composed in 1909 and is in three movement, each subtitled. The huge first movement, Nocturne, has several sections. (Our soundbite presents three of them). It begins as a very moody and subdued night piece, with the strings playing muted. Livelier sections follow before the work closes in the mood with which it began. The beautiful middle movement, Andantino, quasi allegretto, he subtitles Arietta, a little aria, however, it is of normal length. The seductive melodies are quite captivating. The finale, Molto allegro, is entitled Epilogue. It is the most Italian sounding of the movements, a powerful and forward thrusting affair, which is interspersed with several lyrical sections.
Here is a first rate, fresh-sounding early modern quartet which deserves concert performance but also belongs on the stands of amateurs.