Home / Works / String Quartet in A major, Op. 8/3 (George Onslow)

Print content of page

String Quartet in A major, Op. 8/3 (George Onslow)




Allegro – Andante non troppo lento – Menuetto: Allegro – Finale: Vivace

This score, as with the Op. 8 set as a group, demonstrates the impact of Viennese classicism and the desire of including the string quartet genre within the field of “serious” music. The quartet – particularly in its initial Allegro and the Finale – is full of melodic chromaticism and contrapuntal processes, whilst the discourse is dramatized by contrasts between major and minor modes. However, through a combination of melodic elegance and rhythmic dynamism, Onslow was knowing how to appeal to informed enthusiasts (an example being the quartet’s opening, which contrasts so vividly with the slow, dark introduction of Op. 8/1 and the cheerful dance of Op. 8/2). Nor, furthermore, should the counterpoint be considered here as a display of virtuosic writing, but rather as a means to establish the feeling of a musical conversation. Other ideas help in attracting the listener, such as the accelerando at the end of the work, and references made to popular music. If, at the centre of the Menuetto, the pedal note sustained by the cello calls some country dance to mind, it is especially the Andante non troppo lento which surprises: closer in spirit to a scherzo than to a slow movement, it seems to conjure up the sound of a guitar with the staccato chords in the accompaniment. Indeed, “À l’hispanuola”, originally appeared in the score, this but was discarded prior to publication. Maybe Onslow was remembering the lessons imparted by his teacher Reicha who, in his Traité de mélodie (1814, so, therefore roughly contemporary with Onslow’s Op. 8), called for the publication of a collection of “national songs”.

    Person - 1
  • ONSLOW, George (1784-1853)
  • Themes - 2
  • Musique de chambre – Le quatuor à cordes au XIXe siècle
  • Salons – In the salons of Napoleon