The Opus 99 Wind Quintets of Antoine Reicha

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

Opus 99 - No. 5

Antoine-Joseph Reicha: Quintet in B Minor: Op. 99, 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. 99, with the House of Simrock in 1822, the plate number being 2022. Nikolaus Simrock indicates that this is Quintet No. 17 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. No scores are supplied by Simrock for any of the Op. 99 quintets; in fact, it would have been quite unusual had this been the case. Like madrigals published in the 16th Century, we have‘part-book’ format in use for these works.

Clarinets in A and C are specified for this work, while the hand-horn player uses the E and G crooks. I have supplied parts for all four movements in F for the horn, in order that modern horn players might avoid transposition at sight in such a complex work. Only the second movement utilizes the C clarinet, and here I have created a special part in Bb in order that the clarinetist does not have to deal with this transposition at sight.

The Op. 99 Quintuors are set in the following keys:

No. 1 (13) Ut majeur
No. 2 (14) Fà mineur
No. 3 (15) La majeur (not Fà majeur as listed)
No. 4 (16) Ré majeur
No. 5 (17) Sì mineur
No. 6 (18) Sol 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
Metronomic markings are as follows: Andante [none]; Allegro [Half note=96] (80 is more realistic).

The slow introduction to this sonata form is a Siciliano in B minor. The first section of its AAB structure is repeated in Eb minor (and with that awesome key signature) resulting in a third relationship, much prized in the Early Romantic Era.

The sonata form itself, contains a plethora of themes in its exposition (Themes 1-5 and 5k1-5k3). Theme 2 is quite remarkable as it is set in imitative counterpoint, the Reicha's prime area of expertise. Indeed, the development includes contrapuntal manipulations too, primarily of the two principal motives comprising Theme 1. In addition, repetitions of Themes 1k and 5k1 in 'exotic' tonalities take up a fair amout of space here. The recapitulation begins with the aforementioned contrapuntal Theme 2, but set in the subdominant; for that purpose Reicha actually utilizes the key signature of E major. He goes well into the recapitulation before moving to the tonic at Theme 4, a most unusual procedure in a most-beautiful movement.

Second Movement
Metronomic markings are as follows: Andante [Eighth note=88].

Reicha continues his play with the third relationship by placing the slow movement in the key of G major, a third below B minor. The overall structure is a wonderfully detailed sonata form with three primary themes (Themes 1-3) and a special closing theme (1k1) attached to Theme 1 whose harmonies are just gorgeous. Both Themes 2 and 3 are placed bVI rather than the expected V. The development, commencing in bIII, is short, concentrating on Themes 1a and 3 and concluding over a pedal point on V. The recapitulation is somewhat tricky to follow since Reicha reorders his thematic material as follows: Themes 3, 1, 2b, 2a, 1k1, 1k2, 1b (second half), 1k1.

Third Movement
Metronomic markings are as follows: Menuetto. Allegro [none].

This rather unorthodox scherzo has more written-out key changes than one can shake at stick at! Much of this reflects Reicha’s choices of tonality beyond the tonic, which include the parallel major, the subdominant (major and minor), the dominant, and the ever-present third relationship. The overall structure contains the usual three large units, but instead of maintaining binary form for all three, Reicha has devised a much looser grouping of the thematic material. The first section is comprised of three themes mixed approximately: A B C A C B. The central section, or Trio, is basically a rounded binary form in V of IV with an extension and transition. On the other hand, the da Capo is set up approximately: C A (with imitation) C. This is an outstanding energetic movement, and it is filled to the brim with Czech ethnicity.

Fourth Movement
Metronomic markings are as follows: Lento [Eighth note=66] (probably 86); Allegro spirituoso [Half note=112].

The Lento introduction to this sonata form begins in the dominant, F# major, and Reicha uses that very key signature. This is followed by a false start of the exposition in the tonic, after which the Lento is heard once again, but in the parallel major with its corresponding key signature. Finally the sonata form gets underway with a wonderful Slavic theme in B minor. Two additional primary themes and five tonicizing closing themes follow. The development/recapitulation, which starts in the tonic, begins with Slavic theme and later includes a canon between the oboe and horn based on the same theme. The canon is followed presently by the Lento which can now be understood as an integral theme (Theme 1). The overall structure of the development/recapitulation is therefore: Themes 2, 2, 3, 3, 4k1, 2 4k1, 2 || 2 (canon) 1, 4, 4k1-4k8 (three additional closing themes anchor the tonic in B Minor). This construct is Reicha at his best; no other composer of his day treated sonata form in this manner.

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