Home / Works / Quintet with two violas in F major, op. 92 no. 1 (Antoine Reicha)

Print content of page

Quintet with two violas in F major, op. 92 no. 1 (Antoine Reicha)

Date

1807

Description

Allegretto poco andante – Minuetto : Allegro assai – Andante : poco lento – Finale : Allegro vivace assai

Text

While in Vienna, Antoine Reicha composed a group of six string quintets, three of which were published in Paris as Opus 92. The Grand Quintetto no. 4 with two violas in F major, dated June 1807, was the first of the three quintets in the Paris opus. During the same period, Reicha composed some fifty chamber works, but these quintets, which he felt were “highly original”, did more than any other work to establish his reputation in Vienna. The F major Quintet, as inspired as it is demanding, clearly demonstrates the superior quality of these works, which the composer predicted would be less positively received in France due to their level of performance difficulty. This quintet begins with an Allegretto poco andante in 3/4 with shifting harmonies, leading to a steadier Allegro in duple time whose F minor theme undergoes several transpositions. An abundance of melodic ideas borrowing from adjacent keys leads to a contrasting theme in C major played “mezza voce”. The treatment of the different motifs and their complex structure bear witness to the composer’s ambitious intentions. The Minuetto, placed second, is unusual for its incisive staccato phrasing which dominates the movement and the minimal material from which it is constructed. In the A major  Andante, the exposed first violin plays a dotted rhythm motif, its harmonic illumination varying each time it appears, which is set against a contrasting second melodic idea in triplets. The work ends with a large scale Finale, which is striking for the complementarity and perfect cohesion of the five members of the quintet.