String Quintet No.2 in G Major, Op.33 No.2
For 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Violoncello
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 from the very beginning, Spohr wanted to become more than just a violin virtuoso. Hard work and talent were to allow him to become a leading conductor, a highly regarded composer and a famous violin teacher. As a conductor, he pioneered the use of the baton and introduced the practice of putting letters into parts to aid rehearsal. Violinists should be forever be grateful to him not only for his fine concertos but also because he invented the chin rest.
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. During the 1830’s, he bemoaned his lack of ability on the piano and said that he would gladly trade a year’s salary to be able to play the piano well. Spohr was truly a great man of many skills (mountaineer, hiker, painter et. al.), and nothing if not determined.
Op.33 No.2 was the second of a set of two quintets published in 1814. In this work, Spohr's gift for melody is quite prominent. The opening movement, Allegro, begins with a genial theme which proceed at a rather leisurely pace. A second theme is equally lovely. An exciting Scherzo comes next. The contrasting trio section is a lovely ländler. The third movement, marked Andante, does not serve as a slow movement as its tempo is rather brisk. Though not so marked it is a theme and set of variations. The theme is clearly of folk origin. The finale, also an Allegro, begins in the minor, but within a few measures a bright march-like melody interrupts the proceedings. Spohr after a quick-paced interlude, ingeniously combines the two themes.
Here is an ingratiating work which should give pleasure to any quintet group. Our new edition is based on the Steiner edition which appeared in Vienna in 1814.