The string quartet is a beloved genre. Major concert halls offer entire concert series of string quartets. That’s fine, but it’s easy to forget that there are other combinations of strings, some with a special sound such as the string septet and octet. One of these is the string quintet using two violas, an instrumentation which gives a warm and comforting timbre. Mozart wrote no fewer than six quintets for this combination! He was certainly inspired by the works of Michael Haydn, Josef Haydn’s younger brother. Michael, who became the Archbishop of Salzburg’s “Hofmusicus und Concertmeister” in 1763, was a great example to the young Mozart. Although he wrote mainly church, theatre and symphonic music, he also wrote a few works for string quintet. It is absolutely fascinating to compare the styles of these two masters, who were so close to each other and yet so far away.
Jos van Immerseel
Translation by Anne Hudgkinson