Pour les connaisseurs, Georges Onslow, né en 1784, est l'un des rares compositeurs pré-romantiques français à s'être consacré à la musique de chambre. Berlioz rendra hommage à Onslow: "Vous savez que depuis la mort de Beethoven, il tient le sceptre de la musique instrumentale" ainsi que Schumann: "On s'est habitué une fois pour toutes à la manière des trois grands maîtres allemands: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, et en toute justice, on a admis parmi eux, Onslow". Intercalé entre les deux sonates de Onslow nous retrouvons le nocturne de Duport.
Fans of the string quartets by Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Mendelssohn should by all means try this disc of string quartets by George Onslow. British-born and Bohemian-trained composer spent most of his career in France, and aside from their tonal language and their four-movement structure, his quartets have little in common with his German contemporaries. In fact, they have little in common with the music of his French contemporaries, who concentrated mostly on stage works. But in these overwhelming persuasive performances by the Quatuor Diotima, Onslow's quartets come across as fully formed, wholly confident, and enormously expressive works. There is tremendous power in the fast movements: the rip-roaring Scherzo, from his D minor Quartet, Op. 55; immense pathos in the slow movements: the heartbreaking Andante con variazioni from the E flat Quartet, Op. 54; and awesome intensity in the opening movements: the monumental Allegro maestoso ed espressivo from the C minor Quartet, Op. 56.
What a pity that Vol. 3 of string quartets by George Onslow (1784-1853) is the last in the survey. It may just be the best of the three, including Onslow’s great early C minor quartet op. 8, and two other top-notch specimens overflowing with melody, excitement, and power. If you’re new to Onslow, this program is the perfect introduction to his variegated talents and expressive aims. The Mandelring Quartet is a spirited and persuasive team playing from the heart; three members of the quartet are siblings and their father was an Onslow scholar.
These very agreeable works will find immediately receptive ears among fans of early-romantic chamber music. And indeed, Georges Onslow was quite adept at writing for various chamber configurations 34 string quintets, 35 quartets, six piano trios, a sextet, septet, and nonet, and sonatas for piano, violin, cello, and numerous solo piano pieces.
Ce disque est le premier à proposer une interprétation sur cordes en boyaux des quatuors d'Onslow dont deux (opus 10 et 21) totalement inédits au disque. Une musique intelligente, complexe et contrastée? la redécouverte de cet important compositeur de musique de chambre de la première moitié du XIXème siècle est d'un intérêt majeur. Plus de trente-six quatuors, trente-quatre quintettes ainsi que dix trios et quelques oeuvres pour vents ou claviers font de lui l'un des auteurs français les plus prolifiques du genre à cette époque.
CPO’s George Onslow complete Piano Trios series demonstrates that the rediscovery of this virtuosic, dramatically expressive, emotionally intimate, and finely crafted music is long overdue. Of volume two Gramophone said the performances by Trio Cascades were “spirited and expressive.”
Even when the Symphony No. 1 debuted in 1831, it was considered old fashioned. Although it was well received, audiences that same year were also exposed to Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Old fashioned or not, Onslow’s first symphony was performed throughout Europe to generally high acclaim. There were some dissenters who felt Onslow’s themes would have been better served in chamber works using fewer musicians (Symphony No. 3 actually began as a string quintet), but other people felt Onslow moved the symphony in a new direction and his works should not be compared to the symphonies of other composers. Onslow’s symphonies are classical in structure: four movements, not straying too far from the Classical notions of harmony; however they embrace the burgeoning Romanticism of the time. Onslow’s symphonies may not be as adventurous as Symphonie fantastique or Beethoven’s Ninth, but they’re well crafted, abundantly tuneful, and often quite atmospheric and imaginative.
It was Robert Schumann who praised the Anglo-French Georges Onslow, alongside Mendelssohn, as one of the successors to the chamber music legacy of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. His string quintets were intended for a market of cultivated amateurs, with parts for a second cello or bass. No. 10 in F minor, Op. 32 reflects Beethoven’s influence, its Sturm und Drang elements revealing a masterly balance between the stable and unpredictable. No. 22 in E flat major, lively and playful, offers an almost Schubertian songfulness. Of the first volume (8.573600) Gramophone wrote: ‘these five players make a beguiling case for this music’.
Georges Onslow (1284-1853) was the prime example of a highly talented composing nobleman who was fortunate never to have to fight for a living as a musician. Significantly, it is the chamber music that makes up the bulk of his work: 70 alone He has left string quartets and quintets. The fact that there are almost jewels among them, cpo proved a few years ago with a recording of the Mandelring Quartett.
Georges Onslow (1784-l 853) was a highly respected and much-played composer of chamber music works in the 19th century. Hailing from the highest English aristocratic circles, he spent his life in France and was fortunate never to have to compose for his livelihood. His music was not only highly valued by Beethoven, and its originality and ingenuity also impressed one of the most ambitious young string quartets that we could win for our production of the quartets op. 9, 1 and 3 and op. 47: the Mandelring Quartett.