Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Forgotten Master: George Onslow and his String Quartets

George Onslow (1784-1853) was chamber specialist composer in his age, and largely forgotten by now.  I read that historian noted Onslow as well known in his era. He is truly specialist in chamber works, about 36 string quartets and 34 string quintets his recorded works is no-way a fill in for historical purposes only. My first listening of Op.9 no.1 String Quartet in G minor "Variation on God Saves the Queen" theme is an immediately fall in love-alike. The other nice works in string quartet is his arrangement on the opera Guise op.60, as recorded by CD Onslow: Guise Ou Les Etats De Blois for string quartet. Its has its drama and very lyrical, and it is by reason why it is acknowledged by Beethoven and Schubert, I found they are highly sophisticated in composition. It is a shame that his 36 set of quartets, are still largely hidden gems. The current revival of his works involved string quartet ensembles such as the Mandelring Quartet and Quatuor Ruggieri in recording his works.

On one of the CD liner, George Onslow was wealthy and base his composition mainly by his curiosity, rather than following the general (French) musical taste.

Today, recorded cd on Onslow is available by several quartet ensembles. Hopefully a complete set can be recovered and recorded in the future. His opus work numbered till op.83 and 90% are a chamber works, with four symphonies.

And three volume of quartet by Mandelring Quartet on CPO :

Onslow: Guise Ou Les Etats De Bloisarrange for String quartet