Chamber music of the Danish composer Niels W. Gade (1817-1890) is featured on Classical IPR’s New Release of the Week, “Niels W. Gade: Chamber Works, vol. 3.” The Danish String Quartet performs string quartet fragments, and they are joined by members of Ensemble MidtVest for Gade’s String Octet in F major.
Gade was born and raised in Denmark, but he spent a few formative years in Leipzig during the 1840s. There, he served as deputy conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra under Felix Mendelssohn. The String Octet was written in 1848, soon after Gade left Leipzig. The work is clearly influenced by Mendelssohn’s musical style, and it even requires the same instrumentation (a double string quartet) as Mendelssohn’s own Octet. Since Mendelssohn had died late in 1847, it seems likely that Gade wrote the Octet as a tribute to his friend and colleague.
“Niels W. Gade: Chamber Works, vol. 3” includes three fragmentary movements from string quartets. The A minor movement was written soon after Gade turned twenty years old, and it was his first attempt at writing music for string quartet. The two F major movements come from a quartet he began in 1840 but never finished. It appears that Gade planned a three-movement quartet that corresponded to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Welcome and Farewell, but he only completed the first two movements.
The members of the Danish String Quartet met as teenagers when they were students at the Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen. They will perform on the campus of Interlochen next month.