The Opus 56 Wind Quintets of Franz Danzi

Scores and Parts Created from the Early 19th-Century Sources
Charles-David Lehrer, General Editor

Opus 56 - No. 1

Franz Danzi: Quintet in Bb Major: Op. 56, No. 1
Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon

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Franz Danzi (1763-1826) published this work, the first of his Trois Quintetti Op. 56, with the House of Maurice Schlesinger in 1821, the plate number being 1140 / 1er.Qto.
This series would be among the first works published by Schlesinger.

The instruments are given French names on the frontispiece: flûte, hautbois, clarinette, cor, and bassoon; but Italian pervades the actual parts insofar as tempo and dynamics are concerned. There is no score. Clarinet in Bb, and horn crooked in F are specified for this work; but throughout Danzi's nine quintets the clarinetist will need Bb and A clarinets, while the hand-horn player will use several crooks.

The Op. 56 Quintetti are set in the following keys:

No. 1: Si b majeur
No. 2: Sol mineur
No. 3: Fa majeur

These three works are dedicated to Antoine Reicha, who had composed  24 wind quintets during the years c.1810-1820. The publication of Reicha's quintets was still in process when Danzi brought out his first set, the Op. 56, in 1821. Each of Danzi's quintets follows the same four-movement scheme as Reicha's: sonata form, slow movement, scherzo, finale. It is significant that Danzi, who worked at the court of the Grand Duke of Baden in his magnificent Schloss in Karlsruhe at the time, chose the Parisian publisher Maurice Schlesinger to present his first three quintets, for it was in Paris that Reicha's superb quintet players were in residence at several of the most prominent theatres in town. Covering all bases, the same series was issued concurrently in Berlin, the capitol of Prussia, by the father of Maurice, Adolf Martin Schlesinger who was the founder of Chez Schlesinger. The latter house became legendary eight years later in 1829 for its publication of Johann Sebastian Bach's Matthew Passion , which followed quickly upon the first 19th-century performance of that great work by Felix Mendelssohn.

First Movement

Allegretto: quarter note = 132

Danzi’s initial movement of his first wind quintet is set in a sonata form. It must be said that Danzi’s extreme neatness in the execution of this classic structure is a sight to behold and beautiful to hear. The exposition contains two principal themes [Themes 1 and 2] set in I and V respectively, and a set of four closing themes in V. An extensive transition connects the two primary themes. The development/recapitulation begins with Theme 1 on bVI of V, a 3rd relationship. Some of the transitional material of the exposition is retained, after which Theme 2 and its closing themes follow in I with some modifications to the closing themes at the end. There are two places for cadenzas before the start of Theme 2: the one in the exposition is for hand horn, whereas the one in the recapitulation is for clarinet. The compact style of sonata form utilized here was also favored by Antoine Reicha.

The hand horn part is notated in the original 19th-century part without the key signature of F major [= Bb major]. Instead, the single flat is inserted throughout the horn part as an accidental. The same procedure is followed in the 3rd and 4th movements.

Second Movement

Andante con moto: quarter note = 126 [92 is more like it]

The meter of the slow movement is given as C alla breve, but the metronomic information clearly indicates that the tactus is based on the quarter note. The key of the movement, D minor, forms a 3rd relationship with the other three movements which are all in Bb major. Danzi is clearly reinforcing a concept introduced in the first movement at the start of the development, perhaps as a unifying device. The key signature for the Bb clarinet part is lacking in the original 19th-century part: the single sharp of E minor [= D minor] is written in as an accidental.

The form of this movement is similar to that of a minuetto, in that two distinct thematic structures are followed by a da capo of the first. In this case, Theme 1 is a rounded binary form: A BA, while Theme 2 [Trio in III] is laid out AABC. In addition, Danzi adds a tonicizing coda of two closing themes after the return of Theme 1.

The feel of this movement is clearly that of Early Romanticism: the music of Franz Schubert comes to mind.

Third Movement

Menuetto allegretto: dotted half = 69

Stylistically, the Menuetto begins conventionally; but at the Trio it becomes a Ländler. Menuetto proper and Landler Trio (both in Bb major) are equally laid out in rounded binary form; and a da capo of the Menuetto follows as expected. By classic standards, though, this is quite a petit movement.

Fourth Movement

Allegretto: dotted quarter note = 92 [112 brings this movement to life]

The finale is set in rondo-sonata form. However, there is no development section, so one finds but three repetitions of the refrain [Theme1] surrounding two couplets, each of which contains the Theme 2. In the first couplet the Theme 2 is placed in V, while in the second couplet it is in I. In addition, the second couplet includes Theme 3 in vi at its inception, yet another example of the 3rd relationship that binds the movements of this quintet together. Another piece of cleverness is the way in which Danzi shortens the refrain [Theme 1] each time it comes around: Refrain I: AABA; Refrain II: AA; Refrain III: A.

Overall, this quintet is a light composition: very little development is involved in any of its four movements. The large initial movement is balanced by the three shorter movements which follow it.

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