String Quartet No.1 in F Major, Op.28
Wladyslaw (Ladislas) Zelenski (1837-1921) was born in Grodkowice not far from the city of Cracow. After studying piano locally with several teachers, including the well-known concert pianist Alexander Dreyschock, he went to Prague Univeristy where he took a doctorate in philosophy. He also took composition lessons from Josef Krej„i after which he enrolled in the Paris Conservatory where he continued his composition lessons with Henri Reber. Upon his return to Poland he enjoyed a long career as a concert pianist, teacher and composer. He held several important teaching posts including Director of the Cracow Conservatory which he helped to found. He wrote in most genres and left a number of chamber music works which have received considerable praise from the well-known critic, Wilhelm Altmann.
Zelenski's Zelenskiís First String Quartet dates from 1885. Albert Tottmann, writing in his Guide to the Violin Literature, has this to say about the work:
Zelenskiís First String Quartet is an extraordinarily interesting work, especially the second movement, an Andante theme and set of five variations which are masterfully executed. And the other three movements show a purity of quartet style and are the work of a true artist.Ē
The work begins with an unassuming Allegro, however, as the themes are developed we can hear the influence of late Beethoven in their engaging treatment. The theme of the second movement is a somber Polish folk melody. The Scherzo which comes next is playful and highly rhythmic. The finale, Allegro molto e con brio, as the title suggests is full of forward motion and excitement. The striking, lyrical second theme has a rather Neapolitan tinge, especially because of its rhythm.
Here is one of the very best late romantic era Polish string quartets. An important addition to the repertoire. Long out of print, it should be of interest to both professionals and amateurs.