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. 2

Franz Danzi: Quintet in G Minor: Op. 56, No. 2
Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon

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Franz Danzi (1763-1826) published this work, the second of his Trois Quintetti Op. 56, with the House of Maurice Schlesinger in 1821, the plate number being 1141 / 2e.Qto.

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: Sib 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 = 138 [126 is more realistic]

Set in G minor and in¾ meter, the first movement of Danzi’s second quintet of his Op. 56 is laid out in a wonderful sonata form. There are four primary themes in the exposition [Theme 1 in i and Themes 2, 3, and 4 in III] followed by three tonicizing closing themes. Both Themes 2 and 4 make use of the undulating staccato fragment of Theme 1. The development section is not extensive, but it is well thought out, utilizing the staccato fragment of Theme 1 as expected, and introducing Theme 5 in III and in i. The recapitulation omits Theme 1 and precedes with Themes 2, 3, and 4 and the closing themes in I. The movement is filled with virtuosic passages for all five players.

The horn is crooked in F throughout, but no key signature is given [i.e D minor = G minor] therefore, the flat is written in as an accidental. The same procedure is followed in the Menuetto and finale. At the start of the recapitulation, a change of key signature is necessitated for the entire ensemble because of the return of Theme 2 in the parallel major [G major] but neither the clarinet in Bb nor the hand horn crooked in F reflect this change in the original 19th-century parts. Instead, the required sharps are written in as accidentals, three in the case of the clarinet [A major = G major] and two in the case of the hand horn [D major = G major]. A similar situation occurs in the finale.

Second Movement

Andante: dotted quarter note = 60

The key of Eb Major is not the expected one for this second movement: D major the dominant) or Bb major (the relative major) would have been more likely candidates. Instead, Danzi has chosen a 3rd relationship below the key of G minor, the primary key of the quintet. The hand horn in F has no key signature: as in the previous movement, the missing flats [Bb major =Eb major] are treated as accidentals.

The style of the movement is borrowed from opera: with its lilting 6/8 meter and pedal points, it is clearly a Pastorale. Danzi lays it out in sonata form: The exposition consists of Theme 1 and a closing theme, after which a transition leads to Theme 2 and two tonicizing closing themes in V. The development consists of a reworking of Theme 1, and therefore, the recapitulation includes only the closing theme attached to Theme 1, a revised transition, Theme 2, and two closing themes, all now in I.
Third Movement

Menuetto: dotted half note = 76

This Menuetto is a wonderful hemiola-laden waltz, containing the usual structure: Menuetto, Trio, da Capo. Both Menuetto and Trio are constructed in rounded binary form. The bucolic Trio is set in the parallel major [G major] and features a solo for the flute over rather static harmonies. As expected, there are no key signatures for the clarinet and hand horn during the Trio (nor for the hand horn in the Menuetto proper).

Could this ethnic-infused movement be a tribute to Antoine Reicha’s Czech ancestry?

Fourth Movement

Allegretto: half note = 69

The finale is set in sonata form, but it lacks a development section. The exposition and recapitulation are almost identical: Three primary themes are arranged: Theme 1, Theme 2, Theme 1, so there is the shadow of rondo present here. A transition leads to the relative major where Theme 3 is presented with two attendant closing themes, one of which is based upon Theme 1, thereby further reinforcing the rondo concept. In the recapitulation the transition is revised in order to lead to the parallel major. An extra closing theme brings the quintet to a brilliant end. Danzi has left an enigmatic empty measure at the very end of the score.

This second quintet is a much more substantial composition than the first quintet of the Op. 56, and it is fully demonstrative of Danzi’s excellent craftsmanship and his involvement in the birth of Romanticism in music.

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