Friedrich Ernst Fesca: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 1 / Diogenes Quartett

This new three-CD set from CPO contains eight string quartets by the German composer Friedrich Ernst Fesca performed by the Diogenes Quartet. Fesca (1789-1826) was a virtuoso violinist, for a period holding the Concertmaster position in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. It seems his first love was chamber music, and as a performer, he was considered unparalleled as the first chair violinist of a string quartet. As a composer, string quartets were also his most prolific area of output, and up until about the middle of the 19th century, his quartets were staples of the repertoire. Listening to this graceful and sunny music, you can hear why they were so popular.

Although Fesca wrote these quartets during the period between the middle and late quartets of Beethoven, stylistically, they owe more to new Mozart and Haydn than to Beethoven. The sample provided is the fourth movement Rondo Allegretto of String Quartet No. 1, Op. 1,1. An imitative interplay between the four parts, sunny mood, lush harmonies, and a traditional formal structure are all evident from this brief sample.

The Diogenes Quartett was formed in 1998 and has recorded quartets by Mozart, Haydn, and Brahms. If the exceptionally refined playing of Fesca’s quartets is representative of the Diogenes’ other projects, they too would be well worth seeking out. The recorded sound by CPO is up to their usual high standards. This set is marked Volume One. Fesca wrote sixteen quartets in all, so presumably, we can look forward to another three-CD set of the remaining eight quartets from CPO and the Diogenes Quartett.

Album Overview

Since Friedrich Ernst Fesca, Alexander Fesca’s father, had received excellent training as a violinist, it is hardly surprising that his masterfully elaborated string quartets contributed significantly to his fame as a composer. Early in his career, he displayed his brilliant talent as a soloist in the concertos of Louis Spohr, who valued him highly. Friedrich Fesca’s life focused on the cities of Magdeburg, Leipzig, Kassel, and Karlsruhe. The quality and originality of his string quartets are reflected above all in their balanced combination of mellow harmonies, contrapuntal expertise, and a formally integrated virtuosity. In Fesca’s string quartets, Carl Maria von Weber found » certain intelligent circumspection, which, combined with the depth of feeling, […] has as a consequence an uncommonly beautiful character stance.« Here eight of Fesca’s total of sixteen quartets are freshly and rousingly interpreted by the Diogenes Quartet, an ensemble acclaimed by the press and public alike and ranking with the established formations of its kind. Vol. 2 will soon follow on CPO with interpretations by the Amaryllis Quartet, which has been reckoned among the leading string quartets of its generation at the very latest ever since winning the finalists’ prize at the Premio Paolo Borciani in 2011 in Reggio Emilia. Pearls for chamber music fans in search of discovery!


Friedrich Ernst Fesca, composer

Frederic Ernest Fesca (1789 – 1826) was a German violinist and composer of instrumental music. As a virtuoso, Fesca ranks amongst the best masters of the German school of violinists, the school subsequently of Spohr and Joachim.

Diogenes Quartett

“It must have been a stroke of luck that has brought together these four young musicians into an ensemble.” (SZ) Acclaimed by the press and public alike, the Diogenes Quartet is one of the most established formations of its kind.


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