The Opus 88 Wind Quintets of Antoine Reicha

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

Opus 88 - No. 3

Antoine-Joseph Reicha: Quintet in G Major: Op. 88, No. 3
Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon

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Antoine-Joseph Reicha (1770-1836) published this work, the third of his Six Quintuors Op. 88, with the House of Simrock in 1818, the plate number being 1537. Nikolaus Simrock indicates that this is Quintet No. 3 in his series. The quintets themselves are entitled in Italian (Quintetto) within the parts, and in French (Quintuors) on the Frontispiece.

The instruments are given French names on the frontispiece: flûte, hautbois, clarinette, cor and bassoon; but again, Italian pervades the actual parts: flauto (traverso), oboe, clarinetto, corno, and fagotto. There is no score. Clarinet in C, and horn crooked in G and F (slow movement only) are specified for this work.

Within Reicha’s 24 quintets the clarinetist will need Bb and A clarinets in addition to the C instrument, while the hand-horn player make use of the following crooks: D, E, Eb, F, and G. I have supplied alternatives for the clarinet in C and made special parts for the horn to replace the multiplicity of crooks which would have involved transposition at sight by the modern F horn player.

The Op. 88 Quintuors are set in the following keys:

No. 1 Mi mineur
No. 2 Mi bémol [majeur]
No. 3 Sol majeur
No. 4 Ré mineur
No. 5 Si bémol [majeur]
No. 6 Fa majeur

In the preface, which is signed by the five members of the original group which played these quintets, it is made clear that these wind players sought, through performing Reicha’s works, to remedy the overwhelming interest awarded to string instruments in chamber music of the day, at the expense of wind ensembles.

The original quintet for which this work was composed consisted of the following members:

Joseph Guillou (1787-1853) flute
Gustave Vogt (1781-1870) oboe
Jacques-Jules Bouffil (1783-?) clarinet
Louis-François Dauprat (1781-1868) horn
One Monsieur Henry was the bassoonist in the ensemble.

First Movement
After a short, but fascinating introduction, a sonata form gets underway. In a word, this is a most-charming movement, filled with glorious melody. It is here that Reicha transitions into what will become his personal Romantic idiom for the exposition of a sonata form: a series of short melodies follow upon one another like the points of a Renaissance madrigal. The first of these, placed over a walking bass, is built up primarily from a motive contained in the first theme of the overture to Mozart’s Singspiel, Die Zauberflöte ; but there are an additional four motives in Reicha's theme.  In all, the exposition consists of six primary themes, two tonicising closing themes, and an important transition. The development includes Themes 3, 4, and 5 outright, but two of the five motives from Theme 1 are actually treated to development. The recapitulation is often difficult to follow as can be seen from the new ordering of the themes: 1x y z, 2a, transition, 4, 5, 2b, 1x, 4, 5, 1x, 6, 6k1, 6k2.

Second Movement
Reicha has constructed an interesting set of variations in the subdominant [C Major] for the slow movement. There appears to be a breath of the springtime of Romanticism present here. After the rounded-binary-form theme, Reicha presents the first variation; but then he separates it from the two remaining variations with a trio in the subdominant which is given over to a horn solo. Unlike Quintet No. 1 in the Op. 88 (but as in Quintet No. 2) the horn part has a key signature; in this case, one sharp for the theme and three variations. Since the horn is crooked in F, it sounds this material in C major, the tonic of the movement. For its solo in the trio, the horn part is notated in the key of C major, which sounds as F major, the subdominant. After the trio, a substantial transiton from vi of IV to V leads to the two remaining variations, the last of which is cut short after the A section of its rounded binary form has sounded; this is done in order that two closing themes might be added in order to bring the movement to a satisfying conclusion.
Third Movement
Thus far, only the second quintet in this series has a real menuetto. Although it is marked Menuetto, the third movement of Quintet No. 3 is a scherzo. In this case, it is laid out in the usual manner with two large binary-form sections, the second being a contrasting Trio in the subdominant. Both sections return in the da capo with modifications: clearly this movement is under the influence of sonata form. On three occasions, the hand horn must play a perfect 4th below c, the lowest note available to it in the harmonic series. This is a short, but outstanding, movement.

Fourth Movement
Reicha presents yet another sonata form which is difficult to follow, this one even more so than the sonata form of the first movement. Here, the primary thematic material of the exposition consisting of Themes 1-5, does not return in anywhere near the same order during the recapitulation, and a good part of it is packed into the development. The confusing recapitulation includes the themes in the following order: Themes 1, 4, 2, 5. Theme 3 was heard in the development, but then, so were themes 2 and 5. In any case, Theme 3 is omitted from the recapitulation. The double tonguing in the flute at the end adds quite a novel feature to this lively movement.

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