Carl Gottlieb Reissiger
String Quartet No.4 in f minor, Op.155
“Reissiger’s String Quartet No.4 in f minor, Op.155 (composed in 1840) is quite astonishingly good; an admirable work, full of good material, and finished in form. True, it stands confessed in places as the godchild of Beethoven’s Op.95 in the same key, particularly in the broad, exuberant, and rhythmically impressive first movement, Allegro fiero, and in the trio section of the Scherzo, where the gentle lament of the trio section is interrupted by transitional passages. The Scherzo itself, which is placed second, is made extremely effective by the pointed rhythms and the use of chromatics. The Andante quasi allegretto has at first look a song without words, but it later takes a dramatic turn, and finally dies softly away. In the finale, in which the opera composer stands revealed, the excitement of the hurrying, scurrying figures is most effectively contrasted with an air resembling a chorale.”---the famous chamber music critic and scholar Wilhelm Altmann, writing in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music.
Carl Gottlieb Reissiger (1798-1859) was born in the Prussian town of Belzig. He originally attended the famous Thomasschule in Leipzig as his father intended him to be a priest, however, his extraordinary musical talent was recognized and he was encouraged to pursue a musical career. His initial studies were with Johann Schlicht, Bach's fifth successor as Cantor of the Thomasschule. Subsequently, he went to Vienna and studied with Salieri. An early opera attracted Carl Maria von Weber's attention and Reissiger went to Dresden, eventually succeeding Weber as Music Director of the Dresden Court Orchestra, a post he held until his death. A leading conductor of German opera, Wagner worked under Reissiger for nearly a decade. Reissiger premiered Wagner's first opera. A prolific composer, as most composers of that time were, he penned works in virtually every genre. His works show the influence of the Viennese masters, in particular Schubert and Beethoven.
Born a year after Schubert and a decade before Mendelssohn and Schumann, Reissiger's music is an excellent example of the early Romantic movement and this quartet would do well in concert and certainly be appreciated by amateurs.