of Steve Jones
String Quartet No.1 in f minor, Op.43
"Every true chamber music lover should know Wetz's Op.43 String Quartet, a work of great depth, conceived by a thorough musician."---the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann, writing in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music
Richard Wetz (1875-1935) was born in the then German town of Gleiwitz in Silesia. He studied with Richard Hoffmann in Leipzig and Ludwig Thuille in Munich. He eventually settled in the city of Erfurt where he taught at the Conservatory. He composed in most genres. Despite the fact that when his music was heard in concert, it was uniformly praised, neither he nor his music ever became particularly well-known. This was in large part due to the fact that Wetz chose to remain in the provincial city of Erfurt rather than moving to Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich or any other large musical metropolis, despite many offers, and which would have ensured that he became better known.
Altmann goes on to describe this work as follows:
The First Quartet (1916) departs from tradition to the extent of having a slow first movement. It opens with a mysterious and mournful duet between the cello and viola to which the violins respond in a serene mood. Gradually all four voices are brought together in a weighty theme, which soon makes way for a broad melody after which there comes a passionate outburst. A Beethoven-like Scherzo, with a tender trio, follows. A spirit of repose characterizes the slow movement and one is left debating whether the second theme is finer than the first. There is a kinship to Beethoven in the emotional range of the music. The finale is passionate and ingenious. Amateurs will take pleasure in mastering a work which stands in the front frank of the new quartet literature, for it combines true classical form with modern feeling and fine melodic material.
Unavailable for more than half a century, we are pleased to reintroduce this fine work which truly deserves to be heard on the concert stage as well as to take a place on the stands of amateur players.