has been quite a surprise.
you aren’t familiar with the composer, he was born in Nürnberg
at the time of French occupation during the Napoleonic
wars. He picked up the violin out of the various instruments
to which his father introduced him. At 14, he presented
himself to Spohr, who had come to Nürnberg on tour. Spohr
recognized his talent, and remained a touchstone for Molique.
Molique’s career as a violinist took him to the orchestras
of Munich and also Vienna, where another formidable influence,
already quite deaf, played his latest compositions on a
terribly out of tune piano during a visit. Rather than
cultivate a relationship, Molique fled the room.
you thought that, as occasionally happens, such works of
1834 are obscure for a reason, in this case the pieces
have fire and focus, often recalling - indeed, insisting
on recalling? - the Op. 18 Beethoven quartets. In this Op.
18, the scherzos have been replaced with minuets. The opening
movements of these quartets by Molique have the Beethovenian
emphasis on rhythm. Those familiar with Beethoven’s symphonies
but not his chamber music could easily mistake these quartets
as works by the early master of Romanticism. Surprisingly,
though, the model Molique used in composing many of his
works is not the gruff master of Vienna, but instead Louis
Spohr. In listening to the pieces on this disc, however,
it could be easily argued that the doffing of the hat is
for Beethoven — Molique’s quartets Nos. 3-5 are all grouped
significantly under Op. 18, and his 9th quartet
was reserved for op. 59. Op. 18 No. 1 is also in the same
key as Beethoven’s quartet with the same opus number; from
the opening of the first theme, one can’t help but think
of Beethoven’s first measures of his own quartet. This
is no pale imitation, however. The piece stands well on
its own and is a work of smiling confidence.
Op. 18 quartet has a far more meditative character, only
occasionally displaying the masculine bravado so prevalent
in the first. The furrowed brow still presides over the
triple-meter first movement, giving whiffs of Schubert
or Mendelssohn, but the overarching sky in the world of
this piece remains the Beethoven of the middle quartets.
Again, for pieces so little heard, the assurance and swagger
that these pieces have is a surprise. Why are these not
more often performed?
values of this disc fit in well with what one would expect
of CPO, and the music is played with the assurance and
solidity that these well-realized works demand.