Mannheimer Streichquartett: Bernhard Molique String Quartet in E-flat major

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Bernhard Molique (1802-1869) - String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 18 No. 3

Mannheimer Quartett

I. Allegro [0:00]
II. Andante [10:58]
III. Menuetto [20:33]
IV. Presto [24:24]

«Wilhelm Bernhard Molique - also spelled Molik and Molick - was born in 1802 in Nuremburg, son of a free-lance city musician originally from Alsace-Lorraine. He learned instruments early on, becoming proficient enough to be singled out for praise by Louis Spohr, who also taught the teenager for a while. By 1818, he had become an orchestra violinist in Vienna, the classical atmosphere of which would be his second great influence, after Spohr. There are rumors of encounters with Beethoven and Schubert stemming from his time in Vienna; a friendship with Moscheles ensued.
His legacy was made over 23 years in Stuttgart, where he served as concert master and royal music director from 1826 until 1849. Because the conservative musical tastes better suited him, he moved to London. With Wagner and Berlioz anathema to British audiences, Molique must have seemed downright progressive in Britain. During his 11 years there, he became professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music. He went back to his home - Swabia - in 1866, to die there in 1869.
Eduard Hanslick mocked the Viennese audience's expectations and romantic stereotypes rather than the performer's appearance when he described Molique as a stout man wearing "neither a bleeding broken heart on his sleeve, nor long hair. Instead - what horror - horn rimmed specs!" And of his compositions he spoke warmly, if without particular enthusiasm.
[...] Bernhard Molique might have intended to pay tribute to Beethoven with the opus numbering of his quartets (Quartets Nos. 3 through 5 are opp. 18/1-3; Quartet No. 9, quite out of order, was given the opus number 59), but he doesn't emulate his sound.
Not sounding like Beethoven is no disadvantage here: both are string quartets of the highest quality. They are true string quartets in the sense that all voices are equal (no "one plus three"), and "classical Romantic" in the Spohr mold, that is to say, without Beethoven's refined seriousness or any newfangled chromatic shenanigans. But it isn't light fare, much less shallow. The Quartet in E flat is convivial [...]»

-Jens F. Laurson