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Grand Septet in E Flat Major Op.62

C. Kreutzer - Grand Septet in E flat major Op.62

Conradin Kreutzer (who should not be confused with the French violinist Rudolphe Kreutzer for whom Beethoven wrote the Kreutzer sonata) was born in Baden and has a musical career of a pattern not unfamiliar to those who take an interest in mid-European music of the nineteenth century, especially in the case of operatic composers, where success at the height of an artistís powers is succeeded by obscurity in later years. Kreutzer concerned himself mainly with the vocal field by the time he was twenty (the point at which he started calling himself Conradin rather than Conrad under which name he had been christened). By the age of thirty he had left Vienna Ė when, not long, after producing Konradin von Schwaben in Stuttgart he obtained the appointment of Court Conductor, Kreutzerís long list of notable employments includes none that was exceptionally long-lasting. After several moves in Germany, always with operatic success, Kreutzer was back in Vienna by 1822, mainly as conductor with a more fixed appointment a decade later at the Josephstadt theatre. After 1840 the composer moved his home almost annually, settling finally at Riga. At the time of his death at the age of 69 he was largely forgotten. German speaking countries remember Kreutzer for his operas Der Verschwender and Das Nachtlager von Granada (both from around 1834) whilst the Septet does impinge upon British ears from time-to-time.

But for the naÔve theme of the Allegro section of the first movement which is reminiscent of Ludwig Spohr at his simplest, Kreutzer employs symphonic themes and unfolds them unhurriedly. The second subject has much of the grace of Mozart and the independence of the bassoon in the rapid passages makes for colourful textures and rapidly changing inner parts.

The two slow movements have both depth and roboustness whilst the minuet and the scherzo are close in philosophy to the equivalent movements in Beethovenís Septet, the one casual and gentle, the other lively and with a touch of breathless excitement. The sonata-form finale keeps threatening to become fugal and its main subject is ideal for such treatment. The date of this work is very uncertain but it probably comes from the period between Kreutzerís two sojourns in Vienna when the composer was in his thirties when he spent part of this time in Stuttgart.

Antony Hodgson


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