String Quartet No.2 in c minor, Op.4 No.2
At the time Spohr wrote his String Quartet No.2, around 1806, he was, though just 22, known as one of the leading violinists in the German lands, and Kapellmeister (Director of Music) at the court of Gotha.
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. It was at a concert in Leipzig in December 1804 that the famous music critic Friedrich Rochlitz first heard Spohr and pronounced him a genius not only because of his playing but also because of his compositions. Literally overnight, the young Spohr became a household word in the German-speaking musical world. During the first half of the 19th century he was regarded as one of the great men of music.
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.
As a youth, Spohr learned the string quartet repertoire of which he became quite fond, especially the works of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, whose Op.18 quartets he adored. Although, Spohr writes with his own voice, the influence of all of the above can be found in his Second String Quartet. The opening Allegro moderato, which immediately makes an impression, shows a relationship with Beethoven's Op.18, while in the very fine second movement, Poco adagio, Mozart stands as godfather. A humorous Scherzo, allegro, full of catchy rhythms comes next. The lively finale, Rondo vivace, with its Hungarian flavor, is treated quite originally.
Spohr wrote several string quartets, known as Quatour Brillants, which were nothing more vehicles for the first violin. This quartet is NOT a Quatour Brillant. It has good part writing and none of the rhythmic peculiarities which mar many of his works.