Quartet in E flat Major, Op.8 No.4
For Clarinet or Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello
Carl Philipp Stamitz (1745-1801) was born in the German city of Mannheim. His father Johann Stamitz was a famous composer and violinist in his own right and Carl took his first lessons from him and later from Christian Cannabich director of the Mannheim Court Orchestra, then the best in Europe. Stamitz pursued a career as a touring violin virtuoso with some success, however, he was never able to obtain a permanent appointment. He is considered the most important exponent of the so-called Mannheim School of composition which ultimately led to the Vienna Classic style of which Haydn and Mozart were the leading composers. Like most of his contemporaries, he was a prolific composer writing hundreds of works from symphonies, to concertos to chamber music. His style resembles that of early Mozart and Haydn, both of whom could be said to have been influenced by him.
The Quartet in E flat Major is the fourth of a set from his Opus 18 which was published by the firm of Sieber in Paris in 1773 and intended for the Paris Music Society of which he was then director. The Quartet was not intended as a vehicle for the clarinet which is nicely integrated in the ensemble. (an oboe part was created at Sieber's request to increase sales) The opening Allegro is divided into two sections, in one the clarinet takes the lead, in the other, the strings do. There are no strong dynamic contrasts which gives the music a certain subtlety. The second movement, a tender Andante, is played almost entirely piano. The finale, Rondo, allegro, is a lively affair making use of folk melody.
As such, this quartet is not only historically important but on its own pleasing to play and hear. Our new edition, based on the original, has rehearsal numbers to aid performance.