String Quartet No.1 in c minor
Georg Rauchenecker (1844-1906) was born in Munich where he studied violin, organ and composition. He worked in several French towns holding various posts such as concertmaster, conductor and organist until the advent of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. For the next 15 years, he lived in Switzerland, first in Zurich and later in Winterthur, where he eventually became director of its Musikkollegium. After this time, he worked in Germany. He composed in every genre and left six string quartets, a string sextet and a piano quartet. During his lifetime, his works were often performed and he had a good reputation. But, like so many composers of the Romantic era, his name and music all but disappeared in the reaction against the romantic movement after the First World War.
While in Switzerland, Rauchenecker was introduced to Wagner who was living close by. Soon after, Rauchenecker became a member of the Triebschen Quartet which performed several concerts devoted to Beethovenís quartets under the general direction of Wagner. This experience left a strong impression on Rauchenecker. The influence of both Wagner and Beethoven can clearly be heard in his String Quartet No.1 in c minor, composed during this time (1874). One also can hear the influence of Mendelssohn and Schubert.
In four movements, the quartet begins Allegro impetuoso. The main theme bears some resemblance to that which Wagner used in his Siegfried Idyll, yet the movement is fresh and well-wrought. In the second movement, Andante moderato, the viola introduces the lovely melody, which serves as the main theme. It is clearly the center of gravity for the quartet and the music has an affinity to one of Mendelssohnís songs without words. This is followed by a short but robust Allegro vivace complete with a lovely trio section. The quartet concludes with a very convincing Allegro con fuoco which blends an exciting, galloping first theme with a less-driving but lyrical second subject.
Here is a very good work which would be equally at home in the concert hall and on the music stands of amateur chamber music lovers.