'The Celebrated Minuet’, and other music for String Quintet
May 10, 2020 1:38 PM   Subscribe

In classical chamber music the standard string quartet line-up of two violins, viola & cello when joined by a fifth player (typically a second violist or cellist; less often a double-bassist or a third violinist) naturally forms a string quintet. Perhaps the single most recognisable piece for string quintet (on this occasion including a second cello) is the 3rd movement of Luigi Boccherini’s Quintet in E major, op. 11 no. 5, aka The Celebrated Minuet, which, for example, features prominently in The Ladykillers; serves as background music in the restaurant scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; and even turns up, re-arranged, performed by Spinal Tap. But Boccherini wrote over a hundred quintets: if you feel inclined, look inside to find one of them, plus a couple of dozen quintets by other composers...

Notes: (I) All links are to YouTube; (II) The Smyth, Martinů & Rautavaara links have some region restrictions, but should be available to most MeFites; (III) Alas, I could only turn up two quintets by women composers. I know of at least a few more, but couldn’t locate performances of them: suggestions of others will be gratefully received.
posted by misteraitch (6 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
This post is amazing and it is so sideways but totally perfect. Bravo for the classical music! I love this, and thank you.
posted by hippybear at 4:07 PM on May 10

Favorited, as this post will require some time to explore. In the meantime, I have two personal favorites to contribute, if that's okay.

My favorite is from another Boccherini quintet: the final movement of his Guitar Quintet No 4 in D major, "Fandango." (Which requires a sixth person on castanets!) Spectacular.

For purely personal reasons, I also love the second movement of Dvorak's String Quintet No. 3. (For many years, it served as the closing music to the "Ask the Professor" syndicated radio program, which I worked on in college, decades ago. At some point they switched to a Mozart serenade, which is also lovely, of course.)
posted by pmurray63 at 8:11 PM on May 10

So many interesting FPPs this morning!
posted by growabrain at 8:44 PM on May 10

Such lists are goldmines with the richest seams clearly demarcated. Many thanks. Many of these gorgeous works I know, many I don't. Some may well prove to be constant companions on my musical journey if earlier lists from mefites are a guide. Right now, I am lost in the piece by Lokshin which is 100% new to me. The simple act of sharing your knowledge by posting a list triggers joy in others. Thank you again.
posted by dutchrick at 1:34 AM on May 11

Elisabeth Le Guin (daughter of Ursula) wrote about the experience of playing the music of Boccherini on her cello in her 2006 book Boccherini's Body: An Essay in Carnal Musicology. It was a big influence on me while I was writing my Master's thesis. Great book!
posted by trombodie at 9:15 AM on May 11

pmurray63: I'm likewise a fan of Boccherini's Fandango. While I'd read that the guitar quintet version of it (the one I was familiar with) had been recycled from a movement in one of the string quintets (op. 40 no. 2 in D major, G. 341: III. Tempo di Fandango), I'd never actually heard the original twin-cello version until looking it up just now. I'm also partial to Julian Bream's arrangement of it for guitar & harpsichord.
posted by misteraitch at 1:14 PM on May 11

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