Casal Quartett

Genesis 1757: F.X. Richter - Seven String Quartets, Op. 5

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Even though Franz Joseph Haydn is widely credited as the father of the string quartet, the Casal Quartet makes a startling claim that the honor may belong to Franz Xaver Richter, whose seven String Quartets, Op. 5, seem to have determined the character of the genre, from their first performance by Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf's quartet in 1757. Richter's quartets preceded Haydn's and Boccherini's earliest efforts by several years, suggesting that they were likely influential. Furthermore, the sophistication and polish of his Op. 5 suggests that he may well have composed other such quartets, though if he did, they are lost. Many details of Richter's career are elusive, and even though he was a productive composer at the Mannheim court, producing quantities of symphonies, concertos, chamber pieces, and church music, this set is the only example of his string quartet writing. The Casal Quartet plays these works in historically informed style on period instruments, and the care and expression they put into their performances gives them as good a presentation as can be expected. Considering that this SACD is the only recording of Op. 5 available, curious listeners should snap it up immediately, because Richter's oeuvre is by no means established in the repertoire.

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