Franz Xaver Richter

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String Quartet in B flat Major, Op.5 No.2

Franz Xaver Richter (1709-1789) was born in the Moravian town of Holleschau. He studied violin and composition and enjoyed a long career as a conductor and music director. He worked closely with Johann Stamitz in Mannheim and became one of the best known of the so-called Mannheim composers. The new style of the works of Stamitz, Richter and a few other composers resident in Mannheim led to a change of musical style throughout Europe and ultimately influenced Haydn and Mozart who from it were to create the Vienna Classical Style.


Op.5 No.2 in B flat Major is the second of a set of six string quartets, which were composed in the late 1760's. The Op.5 quartets, and the first three in particular, are important in the history of chamber music and of the string quartet in particular. By the mid 18th century, players of the lower voices no longer were content to simply play the passive part of harmonic filler, essentially the successor role of the figured bass. Hence composers sought to create some kind of melodic interest in the lower parts.


Richter in the first movement of Op.5 No.2, Poco allegretto, allows each of the instruments to share in the solos and delivery of the melodic material. Again the viola and cello are given several solo episodes which are the equal of the upper voices. The slow movement, Poco Andante is in the minor and is like an operatic aria. Particularly telling is the long solo in the cello and the nocturnal character of the music. The finale, Fugato presto, is a strict fugue and provides a fine contrast with lyrical movements which have come before.


While works from this period, today, are never considered great masterpieces, nonetheless, the best of them, such as this one, not only show from what foundation Haydn and Mozart were to build, and hence are of historical importance, but also are well-written and enjoyable to perform.


(A) String Quartet Op.5 No.2---Parts


(B) String Quartet Op.5 No.2---Parts & Score


(C) Special Offer Op.5 Nos.1-3---Parts


(C) Special Offer Op.5 Nos.1-3---Parts & Scores to Nos. 2 & 3





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