Friedrich Ernst Fesca: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 1 / Diogenes Quartett


This new three CD set from cpo contains eight string quartets by the German composer Friedrich Ernst Fesca performed by the Diogenes Quartet. Fesca (1789-1826) was a virtuoso violinist, for a period holding the Concertmaster position in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. It seems his first love was chamber music and as a performer, he was considered unparalleled as the first chair violinist of a string quartet. As a composer, string quartets were also his most prolific area of output, and up until about the middle of the 19th century, his quartets were staples of the repertoire. Listening to this graceful and sunny music, you can hear why they were so popular.

Although Fesca wrote these quartets during the period of time between the middle and late quartets of Beethoven, stylistically, they owe more to late Mozart and Haydn than to Beethoven. The sample provided is the fourth movement Rondo Allegretto of String Quartet No. 1, Op. 1,1. An imitative interplay between the four parts, sunny mood, lush harmonies and a traditional formal structure are all evident from this brief sample.

The Diogenes Quartett was formed in 1998 and has recorded quartets by Mozart, Haydn and Brahms. If the exceptionally refined playing of Fesca's quartets is representative of the Diogenes' other projects, they too would be well worth seeking out. The recorded sound by cpo is up to their usual high standards. This set is marked Volume One. Fesca wrote sixteen quartets in all, so presumably we can look forward to another three CD set of the remaining eight quartets from cpo and the Diogenes Quartett.