Prince Heinrich XXIV Reuss of Köstritz
String Quintet in F Major for 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello
“In 1887 Heinrich XXIV Prince Reuss composed his Op.4 String Quintet which I can recommend not only for performance in the concert hall but also to amateur players. Reuss has written a warm-blooded work that is enjoyable to hear but also comfortable and well-written for each part. One must note the excellence of the technique which in no small part approaches that of Brahms. The first movement begins Allegro moderato but soon the tempo picks up. The jovial and bustling main theme is followed but a more lyrical and serious second subject. The magnificent thematic material well justifies the movement's substantial length. In the Scherzo which comes next we hear echoes of Mendelssohnian elves' dances as well as tinges of Hungarian folk music. Next comes a praiseworthy Romance, Andante con moto, which brings Mozart to mind. The finale, Allegro non assai, begins with a very fresh main subject which is well contrasted to the more rhythmic second theme which receives a Beethovian treatment. A fleet stretto brings this fine work to a close."---The famed critic Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for Chamber Music Players.
Prince Heinrich XXIV Reuss of Köstritz (1855-1910), was born in the Prussian town of Trebschen. The Reusses were a large old German noble family with several branches and literally dozens of princes called Heinrich. There was even another Prince Heinrich XXIV, but he "of Greiz", hence the need for the lengthy name. Our Prince Reuss after initially studying music with his father, who had been a student of Carl Reissiger, took a law degree. However, subsequently he devoted himself to music, studying composition privately with Heinrich von Herzogenberg who introduced him to Brahms. Although Brahms never formally gave lessons to Reuss, according to the prince he gave the young composer numerous suggestions and considerable help which as far as Reuss was concerned almost amounted to the same thing. Though not a prolific composer, he did pen six symphonies as well as a considerable amount of chamber music, including five string quartets, two string sextets, three piano trio, a piano quartet, a piano quintet and this string quintet as well as several instrumental sonatas. His style can be an amalgam of Brahms, Herzogenberg and to some extent Dvorak and Mendelssohn. His works were premiered to critical acclaim and were held in high regard for many years before disappearing from the repertoire after the First World War.
This is a first rate work which makes a handsome addition to the string quintet literature. Written with string players in mind, it is not technically difficult and yet it so well written that it deserves to be heard in concert. Long out of print, we are pleased to make it available once again.