Double Quartet No.4 in g minor, Op.136
“Spohr’s Double Quartet No.4 in g minor, Op.136 was his final work in this genre and dates from 1849. I strongly recommend this work for performance and also wish to bring it to the attention of amateur players as it is poses less technical difficulties than his first three. In this work, Spohr shows his masterly handling of both quartets and how beautiful such an ensemble can be made to sound throughout. There is an elegiac mood to the opening Allegro which has appealing melodies and fine rhythmic treatment. This charming movement is lovely throughout. A deeply felt, religious sounding Larghetto comes next. In the piquant Scherzo which follows, Spohr’s beloved chromaticism is on display. The simple, calm trio section provides a fine contrast. The finale, Vivace, is particularly effective in its interplay between the two quartets.”—–the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for Chamber Music Players.
The Double Quartet format--for 2 string quartets-- is not only unusual but is virtually unique to Spohr and must be ranked as his most important contribution to the realm of chamber music. Louis Spohr (1784-1859 also known as Ludwig) was born in the German city of Braunschweig. From early childhood, he showed a great aptitude for the violin. He studied with the virtuoso violinist Franz Anton Eck in St. Petersburg and ultimately became one of the leading violinists in the first half of the 19th century. But he was also an important composer and conductor. Spohr wrote in virtually every genre, not the least being chamber music. He composed some 36 string quartets, 7 string quintets, five piano trios, four double quartets and several other chamber pieces.
In his memoirs, Spohr wrote that the idea of the double quartet came to him from friend and colleague, the famous violinist, Andreas Romberg. Quite apart from a standard octet which works as one large group, the idea of the Double Quartet was to have two separate, but equally important groups which could enter into the most varied of relationships. He set himself the task of using two quartets in frequent contrast in the manner of a double choir and saving the combining of the groups into an octet for the climaxes of the work. Hence the alternating of presentation of the thematic material of the two quartets creates a ongoing dialogue and is crucial to the structure of the work. It also allows for an even greater use of tonal coloration than the standard octet. In line with this, Spohr specified that the seating arrangement for a double quartet had to be different from an octet. He decreed that the two quartets were to be seated opposite one another with the first violin and cello of each quartet sitting directly across from his counterpart.
The work has only been published once and that was in 1849 and without rehearsal numbers. We have added those. The copy is a little light in places but entirely readable. Nonetheless, it is not like a new published work and we have reduced the price to reflect this.
Parts & Score: $54.95