Reicha: 2 fugues for string quartet



Reicha: 2 fugues for string quartet

FE170           Antoine Reicha 2 Fugues for string quartet

1) E minor               Lento – Allegro non troppo

2) E major               Largo – Allegro moderato

The theme of the E minor fugue of this edition is, you might say, the ideal for fugues in the style of Bach, with its two long opening notes being the tonic and the dominant, the second note thus pre-echoing the first of the answer that is to come. In fact, the theme is very similar to that of Fugue 8 of Book 1 of Bach’s Das wohltemperierte Klavier. At times, though, the texture and style recall a much earlier era, of music for a consort of viols from the 16th century. The slow introduction should not be regarded as a separate prelude. It simply sets the tonal scene. Its final two bars, allegro and forte, are surprising. Perhaps they were to wake up listeners who had nodded off during the preceding pianissimo.

The fugue in E major, based on a theme from Cherubini’s Les Deux Journées, is written on a grand scale and is more dramatic than the one in E minor. With the variety of accompanying motifs, it seems more like a passacaglia, with the ostinato shared among the voices, than a fugue.

Was there a particular reason for Reicha to choose a theme by Cherubini? We do not know. A cynic might imagine he was angling after a post at the Paris Conservatoire, where Cherubini had been teaching since 1795, but there is no evidence to support such a conjecture. Berlioz writes that, when Reicha arrived in Paris in 1808, he was known only as a composer, but immediately set about establishing himself also as a teacher.

Score and parts £16


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