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. 5

Antoine-Joseph Reicha: Quintet in Bb Major: Op. 88, No. 5
Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon

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Antoine-Joseph Reicha (1770-1836) published this work, the fifth of his Six Quintuors Op. 88, with the House of Simrock in 1818, the plate number being 1539. Nikolaus Simrock indicates that this is Quintet No. 5 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 Bb and hand horn crooked in F and Eb are specified for this work. I have supplied an alternative in F for the horn in Eb 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
A slow introduction precedes the sonata form which fills out the body of this movement. The main line of the introduction is shared by oboe, flute, and horn; and there are substantial cadenzas for the horn and clarinet written out by the composer. The latter may be used as models for the creation of additional cadenzas which are needed throughout the 24 Reicha quintets.

Theme 1 of the exposition is quite humorous, to say the least: clearly the music Reicha heard at the Opéra comique was on his mind when he composed this movement. Although the virtuosic closing thematic material heard at the end of the exposition is to be expected, the customary repeat marks which follow it at the conclusion of this section are missing, an unusual aspect. Of the four primary themes heard in the exposition, the recapitulation omits Theme 3 [originally in bIII] and the very short Theme 4; they are not heard in the development section either. But a new Theme 5 is played twice in that central section and is set up as an alternation of trios of instruments: high vs. low. This texture is reminiscent of that used by Reicha at the same spot in the first movement of Quintet No. 2 in this series. Such a technique is one he would have known from his study of the 16th-century motets and masses of Giovanni Palestrina; it is a kind of internal antiphony.

Second Movement
Set in the subdominant [Eb Major], the slow movement is a very Classic and most gracious rondeau containing two Couplets. It is most evocative of the era of the Congress of Vienna (1815) when it was composed. The first of the Couplets is set at a third relationship to the tonic in C minor, the relative minor, but its central section is placed in its parallel major. The second Couplet lies in the realm of the subdominant, but soon moves to the tonic where the central section of the first Couplet is heard once again. The coda wavers between major and minor modes, quite a mysterious effect.

Third Movement
We now have a Ländler with Trio, rather than the usual scherzo which Reicha adopts for the majority of his quintets. The previous quintet also had such a dance movement. The Trio, itself, is placed in the traditional key of the subdominant which puts the hand horn [crooked in Eb] into the key of C thus permitting a wide-ranging solo which serves as an 8-measure ostinato repeated exactly 12 times. The same technique will be met with again, once in each of the remaining three sets of six quintets: Op. 91, No. 2; Op. 99, No. 6; and Op. 100, No. 6. The Trio ends with rubrics‘da capo’ and‘senza replica’.

Fourth Movement
The finale of this quintet is yet another rondeau, a seldom-used structure among the last movements in Reicha’s 24 wind quintets; and he clearly marks it in Italian: Finale. Rondo. Allegro. In fact, Reicha composed this movement in rondo-sonata form with three couplets corresponding to the exposition, development, and recapitulation of sonata form. Both Theme 1 of the Refrain and Theme 2 of Couplets I and III are composed in rounded binary form. The development, Couplet II, is light weight, being primarily comprised of Theme 3 and the transitional material which originally connected Refrain I to Refrain II. Of the four refrains which surround the couplets, Refrain III is missing, just as in many Classical Era concertos.

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