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. 4

Antoine-Joseph Reicha: Quintet in D Minor: Op. 88, No. 4
Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon

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Antoine-Joseph Reicha (1770-1836) published this work, the fourth of his Six Quintuors Op. 88, with the House of Simrock in 1818, the plate number being 1538. Nikolaus Simrock indicates that this is Quintet No. 4 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.

Clarinets in C and A, and hand horn crooked in D and E are specified for this work. I have supplied alternatives for the clarinet in C and horn in D and E in order that transposition at sight by modern players might be avoided.

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 slow introduction in 3/4, a fascinating sonata form in 4/4 takes hold. In the first theme, which has a rather Slavic nature, we find the oboe climbing up to the high F3. A plethora of thematic material follows, this being very typical of Reicha’s concept of exposition in sonata form; there are a total of eight themes: four primary themes and four closing themes. The development includes a motive from Theme 2  for each instrument to play in sequence, starting at the bottom with bassoon and moving instrument-by-instrument up to the flute. The recapitulation is theorist's nightmare since the themes reappear in such a haphazard manner: Theme 1 is followed by Themes 4a, 3, 4a-b, 3-4b, and Closing Themes 1, 3, and 2; after this there is a short coda based on the second of the two primary motives which comprise Theme 1 and finally the appearance of Closing Theme 4. Theme 2 never returns.

Second Movement
Set in the dominant, A Major, both clarinetist and horn player alike must make a change for this slow movement. Clarinet in C is now supplanted by clarinet in A, and the horn player must change from the D crook to the E crook. The Andante, itself is a set of four variations on a theme cast in rounded binary form and highly influenced by the lighter style of the opéra comique. The variations are rounded off by the addition of a wonderful coda.

Third Movement
This is the first Ländler to be met with in the Reicha quintets. Here, the composer maintains the older dance movement formula: rather than writing out the da capo with modifications after the Trio, the players are given the rubric‘Menuetto da Capo senza replica’. The two binary forms which comprise the movement are of the rounded variety: ||:A:||:BA:||.  In the first binary form, Reicha rounds each section with a closing theme.

Fourth Movement
There are two meters in use in this movement: 2/4 for thematic material in D minor (Theme 1), and 4/4 (C) for material in D Major (Theme 2 and Coda). Reicha’s use of this procedure is found throughout the three later sets of quintets, and in some of those cases tempo is also associated with it.

The structure of this outstanding finale is a rondeau, rare in Reicha’s quintets, as he tends to prefer sonata form for the last movement. Its structure is a bit unusual, though, since he alternates the Refrain (Theme 1) with the same basic Couplet (Theme 2) in this fashion: R-C-R-C-R-C-Coda. In order to maintain interest, each time the alternating sections come around, Reicha makes some interesting modifications, including the addition of Theme 3 in the final two Couplets.

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