Jan Baptist Vanhal
String Quartet in A Major, Op.33 No.2-New Edition
Jan Baptist Vanhal (1739-1813 also spelled Vanhall, Wanhal, Wanhall) was born in the Bohemian town of Nechanice, then part of the Habsburg Empire. His initial studies were with a local musician, but later he moved to Vienna where he studied violin and composition with Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf. He also learned both the cello and bass and became so proficient that he was able to play the cello part in a quartet which consisted of Dittersdorf on first violin, Haydn on second violin and Mozart on the viola. Vanhal tailored his output to economic realities of the day and composed, as did most of his contemporaries, a huge number of compositions in virtually every genre, including some 70 symphonies and numerous operas. A considerable part of his output was for various chamber ensembles. Today he is remembered mostly for his double bass concerto, but during his lifetime and for most of the first part of the 19th century, several of his works were quite popular. Mozart frequently performed one of his violin concertos in concert. Along with Haydn, Vanhalís works influenced and shaped Mozartís ideas and compositions.
Vanhal wrote more than fifty string quartets, some experts think as many as 100. Most of these were composed before 1780. Only two known sets of his quartets are known to date from after 1780. One set is his Op.33 a set of six. This Quartet is the second of that set. As a regular member of the above mentioned quartet, Vanhal would have been familiar with the developments that both Haydn and Mozart were making in their works. One result is that this quartet has four movements rather than the three that was typical for works of the Mannheim School.
The first movement, Allegro moderato, starts off leisurely with an elegant theme stated by the first violin. One hears echos of Mozartís Magic Flute in the high violin part. It may be that it was Mozart who borrowed from Vanhal. The second movement is a classical minuet but Vanhal entitles it Arietta I and Arietta II. The first is a clever responsion between the upper and lower voices. The second is given over to the first violin. Next comes an Adagio sostenuto, with a main theme very vocal in quality. The finale, Allegro molto, is a lively affair which sounds quite a bit like Haydnís works from this period.
This is an interesting work because one can see what a respected colleague of Haydn and Mozart was producing during this formative period. We have created a modern edition complete with rehearsal numbers.
Parts & Score: $31.95