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The String Quartet in Paris and London 1765 - 1800

Quartet instruments It is probably not widely known that the market for music for string quartet - mainly for amateur players and private concerts - was almost insatiable during the last 30 years or so of the 18th century. In 1786, in Paris some 900 quartets were advertised in the press. Paris, London and, to a lesser extent, Amsterdam and The Hague, were the centres of the publishing industry and, no doubt, the market. Among the musicians who contributed to the genre were many professional violinists, and a few can be identified as composers of some merit and originality. However, the impulse, with J C Bach in London in 1762 and with Boccherini in Paris in 1767, seems to have come from Germany and Italy. Boccherini was involved in private concerts given at the home of the Baron de Bagge, a keen amateur, and some of his quartets were published in Paris in 1769, as were Haydn's early op.9 in 1772.

The first French quartets we know of are a set of 6 by Antoine Laurent Baudron, first violinist at the Comédie française, published in Paris in 1768. Gossec published sets in 1770 and 1772, while Davaux's op.9 set date from 1773. However, perhaps the most talented early French composer is Pierre Vachon. First violinist in the Prince de Conti's private orchestra, he wrote at least four sets of 6 quartets from about 1772 until 1786. He spent some years in London, where his music was also published by William Napier. Vachon's music shows much originality, variety and a real feeling for string texture. At times it could easily be mistaken for that of Haydn at the same period.

Jadin example
Quartet in Eb op 2 no 1 (1796); H. Jadin (1776-1800)

 

Among later French composers, Hyacinthe Jadin emerged as a talent and his first set of 3 quartets, dating from 1795 were actually dedicated to Haydn. Jadin was primarily a pianist and was appointed professor of piano at the newly founded Conservatoire. While the earlier quatuor concertant aimed to treat the four instruments equally as regards solo material, in Jadin's music we start to see he first violin emerging as the most important voice. Jadin's individuality shows in his harmonic language, spiced with chromaticism, his sudden shifts of tonality, which would not disgrace Schubert, and in the originality of his movements. One quartet ends with a Polonaise. After the turn of the century, and with the arrival of violin virtuosos such as Viotti, the string quartet in France became more of a miniature violin concerto.



Musisca Quartet Folios

An exploration of the French classical quartet repertoire

Musisca now offers professional and amateur quartets an overview of the French quartet from the years just before the French Revolution to those that succeeded it. Photocopied scores are available, if required, for all Jadin's works listed below, in addition to sets of printed parts.

MQF1 Vachon, Pierre: String quartets op 5 nos 1-3
MQF2 Vachon, Pierre: String quartets op 5 nos 4-6
MQF3 Vachon, Pierre: String quartets op 7 nos 1-3
MQF4 Vachon, Pierre: String quartets op 7 nos 4-6
MQF5 Jadin, Hyacinthe: Quartets op 1/3 & op 2/1
MQF6 Jadin, Hyacinthe: Quartets op 3/1 & op 4/3
MQF7 Three Quartets: Baudron op 3/4, Gossec op 15/6 and Davaux op 9/6

The following recordings have been issued of some of the above quartets:
  • H.Jadin: op 2/1 & 3/1: Quatuor Mosaïques
    Auvidis Valois V4738
  • P.Vachon: op 5/1: Quatuor Les Adieux
    Auvidis Valois V4761
  • H.Jadin: op 1/3, 2/1 & 4/1 P.Vachon: op 5/2 & 7/2: Rasumovsky Quartet
    ASV GAU 151
Jadin disk cover - Copyright Auvidis
© Auvidis

Click on the speaker to hear an extract from Vachon's Quartet Op.5 no.2 (opening)
Played by The Rasumovsky Quartet on ASV CD GAU 151

Click to hear a sample
Real Audio version 3 format.

© Copyright of sound recording and cover artwork owned by
ASV Ltd., 1 Beaumont Ave., London W14 9LP

Jadin disk cover

Musisca Cello Folios

(facsimilies with performing editions by Joy Hall)

Breval facsimile

MCF1 Bréval: Sonata in G op 12 no 5    
MCF2 Bréval: Sonata in D op 12 no 6    

Breval facsimile

MCF3 Hellendaal: Sonata in G op 5 no 1    
MCF4 Hellendaal: Sonata in D op 5 no 2    
MCF5 Hellendaal: Sonata in C op 5 no 7    
MCF6 Bréval: Sonatas op 28 nos 1-3    
MCF7 Bréval: Sonatas op 28 nos 4-6    
MCF8 Tillière: Méthode pour le violoncelle (c1774)
(New and complete instructions for the violoncello) Facsimile and newly edited performing edition - two volumes in slip case. Text in Eng, Fr and Ger.
   
MCF8B Tillière
(as above) new performing edition only.
   
MCF9 Grétry: Six duos for two cellos    


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