Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere

Special Offer
Complete Chopin
17 discs
Pre-order for £100


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Works for Voice by György Kurtág


Best Seller

Symphony for solo piano

Chopin Piano Concerto No.1

Schubert Piano sonata

Schubert symphony No. 9

Katherine Watson (Sop)

From Severn to Somme

Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Friedrich Theodor FRÖHLICH (1803-1836)
String Quartet in F minor
String Quartet in G minor
String Quartet in E major
String Quartet in C minor
Rasumowsky Quartett (Dora Bratchkova (violin), Ewgenia Grandjean (violin), Gerhard Müller (viola), Alina Kudelevic (violoncello))
rec. Grosser Sendesaal des Saarländischen Rundfunks, Saarbrücken, 21-23 December 2014 & 15 April 2015
CPO 555 017-2 [61.43 + 63.18]

What a discovery! This CD has hardly been off my player since I first heard it, both for the quality of the music and the superb playing. For anyone who loves the string quartet, this is find indeed. The music is innovative, consistently interesting – and very special.

Fröhlich is not well-known. The only other piece available on CD seems to be a single song, Rückkehr in die Heimat, in a collection of Hölderlin songs (Capriccio – C10534). He is not to be confused with Johannes Frederik Fröhlich (1806 – 1860), the Danish composer. F.T. was Swiss, though he studied in Berlin for a couple of years between 1826 and 1830. There, he was snubbed by Mendelssohn, whom he admired, and seems to have been considered too innovative by more conservative professors. He was influenced by the music of Bach, Paganini, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, as well as Weber and Rossini. His career was perhaps handicapped by the lack of an obvious mentor or patron, though he published around 50 (of some 300) songs while in Berlin. He also composed sacred works. After Berlin, he returned to Switzerland for the remainder of his brief life, working as a teacher, composing little.

The scores for the quartets are in the library of the University of Basel, and the composer seems to have treated them as less significant than his other work. The time of their composition was not auspicious, given the dominance of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schubert, so their re-emergence on this pair of CDs is welcome. Some passages are a little derivative and technically imperfect, but one has a sense of experiment. Each of the four quartets is different in character, and, as the movement listing indicates, not just within movements, but in the overall form of the quartet. There is no slavishness here. Beethoven and Schubert both experimented, and there is here a similar sense of invention, if not always the same quality of final outcome. Yet the excitement is unmistakeable.

It is notable that Fröhlich does not always develop themes conventionally. Rather he often prefers to use variations. These are particularly obvious in the long first movement – and a very attractive one it is – of the G minor quartet, but both the first and third movements of the E minor show interesting developments and variations of themes. Fröhlich is confident in producing the unexpected moment – listen, for instance to the unconventional ending of the first movement.

This is music which embraces the less conventional aspects of the transition from the classical to the Romantic, and it is not out of place on one’s shelves with the Beethoven and the Schubert Quartets. If not quite in their class – and this music is not – it is not as far away as one might expect from the relative anonymity of the composer.

Performances are admirable in every respect. The Bern-based quartet treat the music with seriousness but also great élan. They clearly believe in it for the characterful music it is: there is nothing routine, but evident enthusiasm.

Michael Wilkinson



We are currently offering in excess of 52,619 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger