These works are the epitome of urbane sophistication; elegant in construction, mellifluous and with a clarity of texture that allows the bassoon to shine. While he occasionally exploits the extreme upper and lower range of the instrument, Michl confines most of the bassoon writing to the tenor register where the instrument’s natural warmth and tone can be heard to advantage.
As is the case in writing melodically for the cello in combination with strings, the composer needs to take particular care to prevent the line being masked by the violins which generally, although not invariably, play above it. Michl’s adept handling of such technical matters immediately mark him out as a composer of considerable skill and imagination.
The musical texture, although simple, rarely lacks rhythmic animation and the various melodic instrumental pairings with the bassoon create a pleasing variety of tone colour. The thematic materials upon which the individual movements are based are also ideally suited to presentation and expansion by the bassoon. Such is the domination of the bassoon in these quartets that they resemble at times miniature concertos.
Although there are points of similarity with the Parisian quatuor concertant, Michl’s quartets differ significantly from them in restricting soloistic writing for the other instruments.