Quartet in A Major by Richard Strauss
Score and parts
Arranged by Robert Rainford, and scored for 2 c flutes, alto flute and bass flute, this quartet is an arrangement of Richard Strauss’ string quartet; an early work (1881), but one that he thought enough of to have published with an official opus number. The String Quartet, not unlike the D Minor Symphony and Piano Sonata Op. 5 of the same period, reveals the young composer’s devotion to the Viennese masters, and Haydn in particular. The piece is written in a standard four-movement form — Allegro, Scherzo, Andante cantabile, and Finale: Allegro vivace — with the outer movements bearing most of the compositional weight. Strauss uses sonata form in the first movement, and while the Quartet shows his early training in the Classical aesthetic, it is nonetheless a Straussian work in several respects: instrumental colour is granted particular importance, the texture is frequently light and contrapuntal, and the melodies are lively and lyrical. Moreover, the inner voices participate with uncharacteristic significance in the weaving of the work’s contrapuntal textures. This is a full arrangement of the quartet, and as such the first and last movements in particular are lengthy and complex. The first flute carries a lot of the melodic passage work in the outer movements particularly, and will require strong technique and stamina to perform effectively. All parts participate in the contrapuntal nature of the music; the alto and bass flutes also have melodic solos particularly in the slow movement.