Henschel: String Quartet in E Flat Op. 55




Andante molto sostenuto – Allegro appassionato
Andante con moto
Scherzo: Allegro molto
Andante con moto, quasi Allegretto grazioso

Whilst on holiday with Brahms on the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea in the summer of 1876, Brahms gave Henschel some advice. He was working on an opera [Gerda] and Brahms suggested:
“You must practice more gymnastics, my dear, four-part songs,
variations, string quartets, etc.; that will be beneficial to your opera, too”
[Henschel Recollections of Brahms, pp33-34].

It is no surprise then to find that, in the run up to his opera Nubia in the 1890’s, he took Brahms’ advice and wrote this most extraordinary string quartet. Although there are hints of Mendelssohn and Schumann, the influence of Brahms is not really detectable, except perhaps in certain weighty passages in triplets. However, Henschel shows himself to be a fine craftsman as well as possessing an individual voice. The quartet is handled quite masterfully and there are many memorable passages, not least of which is the catchy all-pizzicato episode in the slow movement, which sounds like calypso music.

Sore and parts £20


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