String Quartet No.1 in d minor, Op.24
"Weingartnerís First String Quartet was composed in 1898. Written in excellent quartet style, it plays very well. The opening bars to the first movement, Allegro moderato, quote Schubertís famous Death & the Maiden string quartet. (This was no accident as the work was occasioned by two deaths, the first of the child of a close friend, the second of Otto von Bismarck, whom Weingartner greatly respected as the man who had unified Germany.) This serious movement is highly effective because of the excellent contrast between the themes. In the second movement, Adagio assai, we hear echoes from the Adagio of Beethoven's Op.18 No.2. A powerful scherzo, Allegro molto, follows. It has a particularly striking trio section with exotic tonal coloring. The finale, Introduzione Tema con variazione, begins with an introduction recalling the thematic material of the first movement before a very appealing theme makes its appearance. It is followed by several clever and well-executed variations, including an exceptional fugue, marked Allegro inflammato e deciso. This work unquestionably belongs in the concert hall."---So wrote the respected chamber music critic, Wilhelm Altmann in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.
Felix Weingartner (1863-1942) was born in Zara, Dalmatia, today's Zadar, Croatia, to Austrian parents. In 1883, he went to the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied composition with Carl Reinecke. He also studied privately with Franz Liszt in Weimar. Weingartner was one of the most famous and successful conductors of his time, holding positions in Hamburg, Mannheim, Danzig, Munich, Berlin and Vienna, where he succeeded Gustav Mahler as Director of the Imperial Opera. Despite his demanding career as a conductor, Weingartner, like Mahler, thought of himself equally as a composer and devoted considerable time to composition. He wrote several symphonies, numerous operas, some instrumental concertos, and a considerable amount of chamber music, including four string quartets, a piano sextet and a string quintet. Additionally he wrote a great number of vocal works and instrumental sonatas. Though many of his works originally achieved a fair amount acclaim, they quickly disappeared from the concert stage. It is only in the past few years that their excellence has been rediscovered.
Weingartner's style shows the influence of Wagner and combines late Romanticism with early Modernism. It can be said to share a great deal in common with such contemporaries as Richard Strauss and Mahler. Here is a first rate quartet, written in a very original idiom from a rare, but important transitional era. Out of print for many years, we hope professionals and amateurs alike will make its acquaintance.