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. 6

Antoine-Joseph Reicha: Quintet in F Major: Op. 88, No. 6
Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon

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Antoine-Joseph Reicha (1770-1836) published this work, the sixth of his Six Quintuors Op. 88, with the House of Simrock in 1818, the plate number being 1540. Nikolaus Simrock indicates that this is Quintet No. 6 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 Bb, and hand horn crooked in F are specified for this work. I have supplied an alternative in Bb for the clarinet in C 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 F minor, a sonata form asserts the tonic of this movement, F Major. Just as in the previous quintet, a double bar without repeat signs delineates the end of the exposition from the start of the development.  In this movement one hears the sounds of early 19th-century Italian opera throughout. It might be remembered that the initial movement of the previous quintet in this series was heavily influenced by the opéra comique.  In addition, the composer has sought to demonstrate his mastery of counterpoint. As a result, the texture becomes quite dense at times. Overall, this wonderful movement has a certain Schubertian sweetness about it [Theme 5 especially], setting it apart from those contained in the first five quintets in this series. Reicha has most certainly entered into his Romanic phase of composition here. Another aspect is the fact that this is one Reicha sonata form that is easy to follow: all five of the primary themes and both of the closing themes of the exposition return in order in the recapitulation.

Second Movement
During the early 19th Century, the Siciliano was associated with works for the stage just as it had been during the Baroque era. The only difference is in regards to tempo: the 19th-century version is slower and, therefore, looses much of the lilt of the quicker Baroque Siciliano. Set in the subdominant, this movement is laid out as a theme with six variations. The first variation, for clarinet, is filled with the most intricate subdivision problems imaginable. And later on, when the oboe has a variation, the clarinet must accompany with Alberti bass figuration of the most difficult type. Despite these machinations and others, Reicha was not really successful in composing a piece in this spot to match the beauty of the first movement. The layout follows:

Variation 1: clarinet in I
Variation 2: flute & bassoon in vi
Variation 3: oboe in IV
Variation 4: flute & bassoon in bVI then in III
Variation 5: flute in I
Variation 6: bassoon in I

Third Movement
A Ländler, this one with two Trios, is certainly a delight among the third movements in the Reicha 24 quintets, since the composer normally placed a scherzo in this position. The previous two quintets in this series also had the same dance movement. Here, Trio I is set in the relative minor, and like the‘Menuetto’ proper is laid out in rounded binary form. Trio II begins in the relative minor, but shortly thereafter, jumps to the subdominant where it maintains a thoroughly imitative texture. The Trios are played back-to-back before returning to the initial‘Menuetto’.

Fourth Movement
As in the previous quintet, Reicha chooses rondo-sonata form for the very Classic finale. He will follow this procedure only two more times: in the finales of the first and third quintets of Op. 91. Of the four positions for the Refrain, the third and fourth are omitted, but Reicha does allude to the Refrain on two occasions within the Coda. The development of this particular movement gives the master one more chance to show off his expertise in imitative counterpoint before bringing the Op. 88 to an end.

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