Gyula Beliczay, String Quartet in g minor, Op. 21

May 1, 2018

"A pleasing work," so wrote Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music of Gyula Beliczay's String Quartet No.1 in g minor, which dates from 1878. It begins with a substantial, somber Adagio introduction. The main part of the first movement is a turbulent Allegro moderato. The second movement, an elegant Intermezzo, allegro grazioso, is at times stately, at others lyrical and wistful. Next comes a deeply felt Adagio interrupted by a contrasting, march-like middle section. The finale is an energetic Allegro risoluto.

Gyula Beliczay (1835-1893), sometimes known as Julius in German and English speaking countries, was born in the Hungarian town of Révkomárom (now in Slovakia on the Danubian border between Hungary and Slovakia). He studied engineering and music in Pressburg and Vienna. He pursued a dual career serving as chief engineer in the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of Communications. He studied music at the same time he took his engineering degree, piano with Carl Czerny and composition with Martin Nottebohm. His piano playing was admired by Liszt and Anton Rubinstein and his compositions were highly praised by contemporaries and performed all over Europe and even as far away as New York. He also was a sought after conductor and composition teacher and after retiring from his government position, he served as director of the Budapest Academy of Music between 1888 and 1892. His music shows the influence of Schubert, Mendelssohn and Schumann but also of the Hungarian composers Mihaly Mosonyi and Ferenc Erkel. He wrote in most genres and numbers three string quartets, a piano trio, this nonet and several instrumental sonatas among his compositions.

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Gabriel Fauré, Piano Quartet No. 2 in g minor, Op. 45

October 27, 2017

Gabriel FauréGabriel Fauré (1845-1924) was born in the village of Pamiers, Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées. At an early age he was sent to study at the famous École Niedermeyer, a Parisian school which prepared church organists and choir directors. He studied with several prominent French musicians, including Charles Lefèvre and Camille Saint-Saëns. For most of his life, Fauré worked as a church organist and teacher. Among his students were Maurice Ravel and Nadia Boulanger. He was a founder of the the Société Nationale de Musique and eventually became director of the Paris Conservatory. In retrospect, he has come to be regarded as a transitional and unique figure in French music. His lifetime and works spanned the period of the mid Romantic right up to the modern post-WWI developments of Stravinsky. He and his music were well-known during his lifetime and several of his works are still popular today such as his Requiem, the opera Pénélope, the music for Pelléas et Mélisande and the Dolly Suite. He wrote a considerable amount of chamber music; including two piano quartets, two piano quintets, two cello sonatas, two violin sonatas, a string quartet, and a piano trio.

Faure’s Second Piano Quartet was completed in 1887. It is his only major work that experiments with cyclic form, an approach that was quite popular in France thanks to the influence of César Franck and Franz Liszt. The first movement, Allegro molto moderato, opens with a long and flowing unison string melody. The viola introduces the secondary theme, which is closely related to the first subject. The second movement, Allegro molto, begins in turbulent fashion with a breathless, syncopated theme in the piano. What appears to be a lyrical contrasting theme in the strings is another version of material from the beginning of the first movement; at the same time it is related to the scale passage of the scherzo theme. Fauré wrote that the third movement, Adagio non troppo, grew out of his memories of the sounds of bells heard years before in the garden of his family’s home in Cadirac. The finale, Allegro molto, is full of energy, passion, and turbulence. Its theme of surging triplets has a relentless forward drive. Later, contrasting ideas recall themes originally heard in the scherzo and the first movement.

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Felix Weingartner, String Quintet in C Major, Op.40

The famed chamber music critic and scholar Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Chamber Music Handbook, describes this quintet as follows:

Felix Weingartner “Felix Weingartner's String Quintet dates from 1906. The opening Allegro con brio has a weighty and vigorous main subject, followed by an equally vigorous subsidiary theme. Very delicate and graceful is the second subject, around which there plays a charming accompaniment figure. This is a highly effective movement throughout. The second movement, Allegretto grazioso is in the form of an updated rococo dainty minuet. The lively and fleet trio, which is repeated twice, is in the form of a two step dance and provides a superb contrast. The following movement, Molto agitato e passionate, is a recitative, in which the first violin is given the lead. It is succeeded simple, naïve air, which is skillfully and ingeniously varied. A big, magnificent finale, Allegro e marcato deciso in c minor, begins with a passionate melody. It contains a kind of chorale, and, after reaching a brilliant climax, closes consolingly with an andante in the major mode, soft and mainly tender in character. There is no question but that this fine sounding and effective work would triumph in the concert hall and experienced amateur players also should not miss the chance to play it.”

Felix Weingartner (1863-1942) was born in Zara, Dalmatia, today's Zadar, Croatia, to Austrian parents. In 1883, he went to the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied composition with Carl Reinecke. He also studied privately with Franz Liszt in Weimar. Weingartner was one of the most famous and successful conductors of his time, holding positions in Hamburg, Mannheim, Danzig, Munich, Berlin and Vienna, where he succeeded Gustav Mahler as Director of the Imperial Opera. Despite his demanding career as a conductor, Weingartner, like Mahler, thought of himself equally as a composer and devoted considerable time to composition. He wrote several symphonies, numerous operas, some instrumental concertos, and a considerable amount of chamber music, including four string quartets, a piano sextet and a string quintet. Additionally he wrote a great number of vocal works and instrumental sonatas. Though many of his works originally achieved a fair amount acclaim, they quickly disappeared from the concert stage. It is only in the past few years that their excellence has been rediscovered.

This is a superb work. There is nothing at all like it in the quintet literature. Out of print for half a century, this is your opportunity to play an exciting and satisfying early modern quintet of the first order.

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Felix Weingartner, String Quartet No.1 in d minor, Op.24

Felix Weingartner "Weingartner’s First String Quartet was composed in 1898. Written in excellent quartet style, it plays very well. The opening bars to the first movement, Allegro moderato, quote Schubert’s famous Death and the Maiden string quartet. (This was no accident as the work was occasioned by two deaths, the first of the child of a close friend, the second of Otto von Bismarck, whom Weingartner greatly respected as the man who had unified Germany.) This serious movement is highly effective because of the excellent contrast between the themes. In the second movement, Adagio assai, we hear echoes from the Adagio of Beethoven's Op.18 No.2. A powerful scherzo, Allegro molto, follows. It has a particularly striking trio section with exotic tonal coloring. The finale, Introduzione - Tema con variazione, begins with an introduction recalling the thematic material of the first movement before a very appealing theme makes its appearance. It is followed by several clever and well-executed variations, including an exceptional fugue, marked Allegro inflammato e deciso. This work unquestionably belongs in the concert hall."

So wrote the respected chamber music critic, Wilhelm Altmann in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.

Felix Weingartner (1863-1942) was born in Zara, Dalmatia, today's Zadar, Croatia, to Austrian parents. In 1883, he went to the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied composition with Carl Reinecke. He also studied privately with Franz Liszt in Weimar. Weingartner was one of the most famous and successful conductors of his time, holding positions in Hamburg, Mannheim, Danzig, Munich, Berlin and Vienna, where he succeeded Gustav Mahler as Director of the Imperial Opera. Despite his demanding career as a conductor, Weingartner, like Mahler, thought of himself equally as a composer and devoted considerable time to composition. He wrote several symphonies, numerous operas, some instrumental concertos, and a considerable amount of chamber music, including four string quartets, a piano sextet and a string quintet. Additionally he wrote a great number of vocal works and instrumental sonatas. Though many of his works originally achieved a fair amount acclaim, they quickly disappeared from the concert stage. It is only in the past few years that their excellence has been rediscovered.

Weingartner's style shows the influence of Wagner and combines late Romanticism with early Modernism. It can be said to share a great deal in common with such contemporaries as Richard Strauss and Mahler. Here is a first rate quartet, written in a very original idiom from a rare, but important transitional era. Out of print for many years, we hope professionals and amateurs alike will make its acquaintance.

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Felix Weingartner, String Quartet No.4 in D Major, Op.62

Felix Weingartner Felix Weingartner (1863-1942) was born in Zara, Dalmatia, today's Zadar, Croatia, to Austrian parents. In 1883, he went to the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied composition with Carl Reinecke. He also studied privately with Franz Liszt in Weimar. Weingartner was one of the most famous and successful conductors of his time, holding positions in Hamburg, Mannheim, Danzig, Munich, Berlin and Vienna, where he succeeded Gustav Mahler as Director of the Imperial Opera. Despite his demanding career as a conductor, Weingartner, like Mahler, thought of himself equally as a composer and devoted considerable time to composition. He wrote several symphonies, numerous operas, some instrumental concertos, and a considerable amount of chamber music, including four string quartets, a piano sextet and a string quintet. Additionally he wrote a great number of vocal works and instrumental sonatas. Though many of his works originally achieved a fair amount acclaim, they quickly disappeared from the concert stage. It is only in the past few years that their excellence has been rediscovered.

Weingartner’s first three string quartets were composed and published within a few years of each other. The Third String Quartetwas finished in 1903. Fifteen years and a World War separate that work from String Quartet No.4 , which appeared in 1918. Nonetheless, this quartet shows many of the same characteristics of the preceding ones. Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Chamber Music Handbook has this to say:

"The main theme of the opening movement, Allegro grazioso, is dominated by its rhythmic figures while the charming and playful second theme is quite catchy and reminds one of something that could have been used in a cowboy Western movie. The following Elegy, Andante con poco moto, is everything that such a movement should be—emotive, somewhat sad and reflective, the writing is superb. The third movement, Allegro vivo, bursts forth impetuosity. Weingartner compliments his compelling rhythmic writing very effective use of both pizzicato and ponticello. A highly chromatic and somewhat wayward trio section provides good contrast., serves as a scherzo. The trio makes a strong impression and contrast with its warm melody. The finale, Vivace assai, both in spirit and tonality has a rather classical aura to it. It sounds what Mozart might have written had he been living in the first decade of the 20th century, combining clever playfulness with lovely melody.”

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Enrique Fernandez Arbós, Tres Piezas Originales en Estilo Español, Op.1

Enrique Fernández Arbós Enrique Fernández Arbós (1863-1939) originally made his name as a virtuoso violinist and later as one of Spain’s greatest conductors. After studying violin in Madrid, he continued his studies in Brussels under Henri Vieuxtemps and later in Berlin under Joseph Joachim. He enjoyed a considerable solo career but was also engaged as concertmaster of several orchestras including those of Berlin, Boston and Glasgow. In 1904, he was offered the position of principal conductor of the Madrid Symphony, a position he held for nearly 35 years.

Arbós emphasized that his Tres Piezas Originales en Estilo Español, Op.1 (three pieces in the Spanish style) were original, meaning they were of his own creation and not taken from Spanish folklore. Although the music is highly stylized and perhaps approaches the archetypical, it is more than salon music. The work dates from the late 1880’s during which time he was still in Germany. Although the official title is “Three Pieces”, Arbós usually referred to the work as the Spanish Trio.

The first piece or movement is marked Bolero. Remove any thoughts you may have of Ravel because there is nothing here sounding like that except the quick rhythmic drum-beat triplets used as the back drop. Lively and formal, yet romantic, the music is captivating from first note to last, a real show piece, which like the other two movements, could stand on its own. This is followed by an atmospheric and moody Habanera. The dramatic dance follows the typical rhythmic pattern we have to come expect, especially after Carmen, from this kind of dance. But the slower middle section has some very interesting chromatic piano writing and other passages in the strings which create a new kind of Habenera out of the famous old standard. The deeply Spanish finale, Seguidillas gitanas, (Gypsy songs) begins classically as you might expect. Long-lined lyrical melodies in the strings are accompanied by perky angular rhythms in the piano. This joyful music makes you want to dance.

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Edouard Destenay, Trio in b minor for Clarinet, Oboe and Piano, Op.27

Edouard Destenay (1850-1924) was born in the Algerian capital of Algiers. We know very little about his life. It is somewhat surprising, given that he was a Knight of the Légion d' Honneur and a Committee member of the French musicians, that even French sources have little to say about him. We know that he moved to Paris, where he studied music with Claudius Blanc and that he spent the rest of his life in France. He mainly composed music for strings and orchestra and his Romantic Symphony for piano and orchestra was popular and performed regularly for a number of years.

His Trio in b minor, Op.27 dates from 1906 and is in three movements. It combines elements of German romanticism with the musical language of Saint-Saëns and Gounod. The opening Allegro vivace is exciting and full of wonderful exchanges between the voices. This is followed by a highly melodic and very lyrical Andante. The delightful finale, Presto, is tightly written and full of appeal.

This very appealing work will not only triumph in the concert hall but will be a great treat for amateurs as well.

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Friedrich Kiel, Piano Quintet No.2 in c minor, Op.76

Friedrich Kiel Friedrich Kiel (1821-1885), who was generally regarded the best composition teacher in Germany from about 1870 until his untimely death, wrote chamber music of which the famous critic Wilhelm Altmann wrote, “He produced a number of chamber works, which...need fear no comparison.” Thus it should come as no surprise that Friedrich Kiel's two piano quintets are as fine as any written in the 19th century--including those of Brahms and Dvořák. They are magnificent works and it is unpardonable that they are not known and have not taken a place in the standard repertoire for this combination. We are very pleased to make these outstanding works available to the public once again.

Kiel was taught the rudiments of music and received his first piano lessons from his father but was in large part self-taught. Something of a prodigy, he played the piano almost without instruction at the age of six, and by his thirteenth year he had composed much music. Kiel eventually won a scholarship which allowed him to study in Berlin with the renowned theorist and teacher Siefried Dehn. By 1866, Kiel obtained a teaching position at the prestigious Stern Conservatory and was elevated to a professorship three years later. In 1870 he joined the faculty of the newly founded Hochschule für Musik which was shortly thereafter considered one of the finest music schools in Germany. Among his many students were Noskowski, Paderewski and Stanford. Kiel's hobby was mountaineering and at age 60--two years before his tragic death as the result of a traffic accident--he climbed Europe's second highest peak, Monte Rosa.

Kiel's Second Piano Quintet, in five movements, was written immediately after the first and was published at the same time. The first movement, Allegro maestoso, begins with a mysterious introduction and moves through several keys but is quickly overshadowed by the expansive and rich second theme. Next comes a simple but beautiful Arioso. The middle section consists of a very attractive waywardly, longing episode. The third movement, an Intermezzo, uses the Mendelssohnian title and to an extent the language but it is really a scherzo. Next is a longish introduction, an Andante, which prepares the way for the finale, Rondo which opens as a lively moto perpetuo. The middle section is a lyrical melody. Here is another superb work deserving of regular performance.

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Friedrich Kiel, Piano Quintet No.1 in A Major, Op.75

Friedrich Kiel Friedrich Kiel's two piano quintets are as fine as any written in the 19th century--including those of Brahms and Dvořák. They are magnificent works and it is unpardonable that they are not known and have not taken a place in the standard repertoire for this combination. We are very pleased to make these outstanding works available to the public once again.

Writing of the chamber music of Friedrich Kiel (1821-1885), Wilhelm Altmann—perhaps the greatest of chamber music critics—notes that it was Kiel’s extreme modesty which kept him and his exceptional works from receiving the consideration they deserved. And what consideration did Altmann feel these works deserved? After mentioning Brahms and others, Altmann writes, “He produced a number of chamber works, which...need fear no comparison.” Altmann, himself, said that he found in Kiel’s chamber music a “never ending source of delight.” That his works remained relatively unknown was due mostly to his modesty but also, Altmann explains, to the high cost of the original editions.

Kiel was taught the rudiments of music and received his first piano lessons from his father but was in large part self-taught. Something of a prodigy, he played the piano almost without instruction at the age of six, and by his thirteenth year he had composed much music. Kiel eventually won a scholarship which allowed him to study in Berlin with the renowned theorist and teacher Siefried Dehn. By 1866, Kiel obtained a teaching position at the prestigious Stern Conservatory and was elevated to a professorship three years later. In 1870 he joined the faculty of the newly founded Hochschule für Musik which was shortly thereafter considered one of the finest music schools in Germany. Among his many students were Noskowski, Paderewski and Stanford. Kiel's hobby was mountaineering and at age 60--two years before his tragic death as the result of a traffic accident--he climbed Europe's second highest peak, Monte Rosa.

Kiel's First Piano Quintet, in five movements, dates from 1873-4. It is a large genial affair full of wonderful melodies and original ideas and effects. The first movement, Allegro moderato ma con spirito, opens in the lower voices with distant echoes of Mendelssohn. The rich and darkly hued development section has writing as fine as Brahms' best. The second movement though marked Allegro molto, is a deliberate and moderate tempo intermezzo with a gorgeous interplay of strings and piano. The highly romantic third movement, Adagio con espressione, is a movement of modest length no doubt because Kiel recognized the aura created by the intense beauty of the melody would be dissipated if it continued on too long. At this point, Kiel inserts an extra movement, Tempo di Menuetto, which shows him thinking almost along the older serenade type works of more than four movements. As the minuet begins, it is entrusted entirely to the piano playing solo. It has a calm, veiled quality to it. The superb and exciting finale, Allegro, bubbles over with a fecundity of melody. The sure touch of a master composer is everywhere in evidence.

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Friedrich Kiel, Piano Quartet No.1 in a minor, Op.43

Friedrich Kiel Friedrich Kiel's third and final piano quartet was composed in 1868, a year after his first two. This work, along with his two other piano quartets, is among the best works of this genre. Today, we have forgotten that up until the First World War, piano quartets were more frequently composed and performed than the now more often performed piano quintet. (For example, Mendelssohn wrote piano quartets but no quintets, Brahms wrote only one piano quintet but three piano quartets)

Writing of the chamber music of Friedrich Kiel (1821-1885), Wilhelm Altmann—perhaps the greatest of chamber music critics—notes that it was Kiel’s extreme modesty which kept him and his exceptional works from receiving the consideration they deserved. And what consideration did Altmann feel these works deserved? After mentioning Brahms and others, Altmann writes, “He produced a number of chamber works, which...need fear no comparison.” Altmann, himself, said that he found in Kiel’s chamber music a “never ending source of delight.” That his works remained relatively unknown was due mostly to his modesty but also, Altmann explains, to the high cost of the original editions.

Kiel was taught the rudiments of music and received his first piano lessons from his father but was in large part self-taught. Something of a prodigy, he played the piano almost without instruction at the age of six, and by his thirteenth year he had composed much music. Kiel eventually won a scholarship which allowed him to study in Berlin with the renowned theorist and teacher Siefried Dehn. By 1866, Kiel obtained a teaching position at the prestigious Stern Conservatory and was elevated to a professorship three years later. In 1870 he joined the faculty of the newly founded Hochschule für Musik which was shortly thereafter considered one of the finest music schools in Germany. Among his many students were Noskowski, Paderewski and Stanford. Kiel's hobby was mountaineering and at age 60--two years before his tragic death as the result of a traffic accident--he climbed Europe's second highest peak, Monte Rosa.

Kiel's First Piano Quartet dates from 1867. The magnificent first movement, Allegro moderato ma con spirito, begins with a lengthy, diffident and leisurely introduction, which takes its time building tension and interest before the heroic main theme, sung high in violin, is produced. The other strings join in while the piano plays a jaunty rhythmic accompaniment. An exotic development in the piano is interspersed between this, but then quickly leads to the triumphal march-like second theme. The second movement, Adagio con moto, is in the form of a simple, somewhat religious, song and provides excellent contrast with the preceding Allegro. Though mostly quiet, it is not without drama. The Scherzo, allegro con spirito, which follows, has a Beethovian feel, especially its rhythm. The superb finale, Vivace, is brimming with appealing melodies and clever ideas. The rhythm of the main theme recalls the last movement Mozart's K.515 C Major Viola Quintet, but Kiel gives it a Hungarian treatment! Next comes a melody which is the half-sister to a theme from Schubert's D.956 Cello Quintet, but after a few seconds, Kiel turns it inside out, twists it and sends it galloping off at breathless speed. The sure touch of a master composer is everywhere in evidence.

Out of print for more than a century, this work would be an unqualified success and audience pleaser in concert. Amateur music makers will surely get great fun out of having the chance to play such a sparkling work.

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Friedrich Kiel, Piano Quartet No.3 in G Major, Op.50

Friedrich Kiel Friedrich Kiel's third and final piano quartet was composed in 1868, a year after his first two. This work, along with his two other piano quartets, is among the best works of this genre. Today, we have forgotten that up until the First World War, piano quartets were more frequently composed and performed than the now more often performed piano quintet. (For example, Mendelssohn wrote piano quartets but no quintets, Brahms wrote only one piano quintet but three piano quartets)

Writing of the chamber music of Friedrich Kiel (1821-1885), Wilhelm Altmann—perhaps the greatest of chamber music critics—notes that it was Kiel’s extreme modesty which kept him and his exceptional works from receiving the consideration they deserved. And what consideration did Altmann feel these works deserved? After mentioning Brahms and others, Altmann writes, “He produced a number of chamber works, which...need fear no comparison.” Altmann, himself, said that he found in Kiel’s chamber music a “never ending source of delight.” That his works remained relatively unknown was due mostly to his modesty but also, Altmann explains, to the high cost of the original editions.

Kiel was taught the rudiments of music and received his first piano lessons from his father but was in large part self-taught. Something of a prodigy, he played the piano almost without instruction at the age of six, and by his thirteenth year he had composed much music. Kiel eventually won a scholarship which allowed him to study in Berlin with the renowned theorist and teacher Siefried Dehn. By 1866, Kiel obtained a teaching position at the prestigious Stern Conservatory and was elevated to a professorship three years later. In 1870 he joined the faculty of the newly founded Hochschule für Musik which was shortly thereafter considered one of the finest music schools in Germany. Among his many students were Noskowski, Paderewski and Stanford. Kiel's hobby was mountaineering and at age 60--two years before his tragic death as the result of a traffic accident--he climbed Europe's second highest peak, Monte Rosa.

Unlike the other two, Piano Quartet No.3 is in three and not four movements. It begins with a somewhat solemn Adagio con espressione introduction before the entrance of the more buoyant Allegro. The lovely middle movement, Andante quasi allegretto, has the quality of a Lied or song. A faster trio section in the minor provides a fine contrast. An exciting finale, Presto assai, caps this superb work. In the best Schubertian tradition, it races along in 6/8 with barely a moment's rest until the appearance of the second theme.

As with the other two, this work has been out of print for more than a century and undoubtedly would be a great success and audience pleaser in concert. Amateur music makers will also derive great pleasure playing a work of this quality.

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Ottorino Respighi, String Quartet in D Major

Ottorino Respighi It will come as a surprise to many people that the famous orchestral composer Ottorino Respighi, known for such works as the Pines and the Fountains of Rome, also wrote chamber music. But Respighi was very interested in chamber music and wrote a considerable amount. His String Quartet in D Major, which dates from 1907 and is sometimes called No.1 was actually his sixth string quartet. In all he wrote eight, as well as a string quintet and a piano quintet.

Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) was born in Bologna and studied violin, piano and composition at the local conservatory. Becoming a first rate viola player, he was engaged to play a season for the Imperial Orchestra in St. Petersburg where he met and subsequently studied composition with Rimsky-Korsakov. Upon his return to Italy, he took up residence in Rome where he lived for the rest of his life.

"The Quartet in D Major which was composed in 1907 was first published in 1920. It is constructed in along a clear classical structure, with appealing sentiment and is in no way difficult to play. The opening Allegro begins with an up-lifting and highly romantic main theme which is followed by a playful syncopated second theme. The second movement, Tema con variazioni, begins with a melancholy theme and are followed by a series of very interesting variations. Although Respighi subtitled the next movement Intermezzo, it is really a nervous scherzo. The finale, Allegro, begins in a dramatic fashion with a highly effective rollicking Neapolitan melody. There is much here to admire of the fine rhythmic and harmonic writing."

This was the opinion of the esteemed chamber music scholar, Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players. This work should be of interest to amateurs and professionals alike.

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Friedrich Kuhlau, Grand Trio in G Major, Op.119

Friedrich Kuhlau One of Friedrich Kuhlau's last works, written in 1831, was his Grand Trio in G Major, Op.119. It was originally for two flutes and piano but Kuhlau, himself, arranged the second flute part for cello or bassoon. This gives the cello or bassoon a greater role than one normally finds in trio music of this period, elevating it to an equal partner with the other instruments instead of barely beyond the bass line as is the case with most Classical and early Romantic trios. His publisher added a violin part in place of the first flute so that the work could be played by the standard piano trio. Kuhlau's experience in opera composition is evident here in the song-like quality of the melodies and the coloratura-like technique given to all of the instruments. In the opening movement, Allegro moderato, the sentimental main theme is introduced by the piano. In the second movement, Adagio patetico, the Hungarian sounding middle section is particularly noteworthy. The finale is an upbeat Rondo.

Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832), often called the “Beethoven of the Flute”, is well-known to flute players, if few others, for the many fine pieces that he composed for that instrument. Though it is generally assumed, by those who have heard of him, that he was a flute virtuoso, ironically, he never played the instrument. Born in Germany, after being blinded in one eye in a freak street accident, he studied piano in Hamburg. In 1810, he fled to Copenhagen to avoid conscription in the Napoleonic Army, which overwhelmed the many small principalities and duchies of northern Germany, and in 1813 he became a Danish citizen. Outside of several lengthy trips which he took, he resided there until his death. During his lifetime, he was known primarily as a concert pianist and composer of Danish opera, but was responsible for introducing many of Beethoven’s works, which he greatly admired, to Copenhagen audiences.

Considering that his house burned down destroying all of his unpublished manuscripts, he was a prolific composer leaving more than 200 published works in most genres. Beethoven, whom Kuhlau knew personally, exerted the greatest influence upon his music. Interestingly, few of Beethoven’s contemporaries showed greater understanding or ability to assimilate what the great man was doing than Kuhlau. Certainly with regard to form, Kuhlau was clearly able to make sense and use what Beethoven was doing in something as advanced as his Middle Period. Thus, for those encountering his chamber music for the first time, there is always a surprise at how fine the music is structurally and also how well he handles the instruments. Beyond this, he definitely had, like Mozart, Schubert or Hummel, a gift for wonderful melodies which bubble forth from his music effortlessly.

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Alexander Borodin, String Trio in g minor for 2 Violins and Cello

Alexander Borodin While Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) is fairly well-known, it is his orchestral pieces and not his chamber music which has made his name. Nine out of ten people could not tell you that the famous Borodin melody in the popular Broadway musical Kismet is from his Second String Quartet. But Borodin wrote several lovely chamber music works. These fall into two distinct periods. The first is from his time in Germany during the late 1850's when he was doing post graduate work in chemistry. His main occupation was that of a Professor Chemistry at the university in St. Petersburg. Music was only a hobby he engaged in for relaxation. The second period dates from his time in St. Petersburg when he came under the influence of and received considerable help from Rimsky-Korsakov. Tchaikovsky was to quip, "Oh Borodin, a good chemist, but he cannot write a proper measure without Rimsky helping him."

The String Trio in g minor is one of the earliest extant works of Borodin. It dates from 1855, the time during which he was in Germany. It is relatively short and in one movement, a theme and set of eight variations. Unlike his other works from this period it escapes the influence of Mendelssohn, largely because of its use of a once well-known Russian folk song, “What have I done to hurt you?” as the theme. The treatment is closer to that by the Russian composer Alabiev who wrote several pieces of this kind with which Borodin would have been familiar. Several of the variations are quite original and extremely well done, demolishing the sarcastic criticism of Tchaikovky.

The trio remained as a forgotten manuscript until it was finally published by the Soviet State Music Publishers toward the mid-20th century. That edition was only briefly available in the West. Our edition is a reprint of the Soviet edition. Trios for 2 Violins and Cello after 1800 became a rarity. There are very few from the Romantic period and as such this is a useful addition to the literature.

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Alexander Borodin, String Trio No.2 in G Major for 2 Violins and Cello

Alexander Borodin While Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) is fairly well-known, it is his orchestral pieces and not his chamber music which has made his name. Nine out of ten people could not tell you that the famous Borodin melody in the popular Broadway musical Kismet is from his Second String Quartet. But Borodin wrote several lovely chamber music works. These fall into two distinct periods. The first is from his time in Germany during the late 1850's when he was doing post graduate work in chemistry. His main occupation was that of a Professor Chemistry at the university in St. Petersburg. Music was only a hobby he engaged in for relaxation. The second period dates from his time in St. Petersburg when he came under the influence of and received considerable help from Rimsky-Korsakov. Tchaikovsky was to quip, "Oh Borodin, a good chemist, but he cannot write a proper measure without Rimsky helping him."

There is virtually no information about Borodin's String Trio in G Major, the so-called No.2. This is based on the assumption of some Borodin scholars that it was composed between 1855 and 1860. Other scholars have claimed it dates from 1847 which would make it Borodin's earliest work, since he would have been 14 at the time. The manuscript bears the inscription 'Grand Trio' and although only the first two movements survive, it is clearly written on a much bigger scale than his other trio which is really only a theme a variations. No one knows for sure if Borodin ever completed the work. Hence, the last two movements may never have existed, or if he did complete them they are lost. Listening to the opening movement, Allegro, one could easily conclude that this trio was written before the g minor trio as the music shows the string influence of Mozart, Hummel and the earlier Romantics. Yet, the writing is more accomplished and detailed than that in the first trio. The second movement is a lovely Andante.

The work remained as a forgotten manuscript until it was finally published by the Soviet State Music Publishers in 1949. That edition was, to the best of our knowledge, never available in the West. Our edition is a reprint of the Soviet edition. Trios for 2 Violins and Cello after 1800 became a rarity. There are very few from the Romantic period and as such this is a useful addition to the literature.

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Henry Holden Huss, Piano Trio in d minor, Op.23

Henry Holden Huss Henry Holden Huss (1862-1953) grew up in New York City, the son of German immigrant parents. His father was an organist who engaged a graduate of the Leipzig Conservatory to teach his son piano and organ, and then when the boy was old enough, sent him to the Royal Conservatory in Munich where he studied with Josef Rheinberger, among others. Upon his return to the States, Huss embarked on a moderately successful career as a touring piano virtuoso. As a composer, he was regarded as one of the best of his generation by those who counted, but unfortunately, it was at a time when American composers could rarely get a hearing for their works.

Writing of this work, the Editor of The Chamber Music Journal comments:

Huss' Piano Trio in d minor, Op.23, subtitled, The Munich, was composed in 1886 and dedicated to his teacher, Rheinberger. Although it was given perhaps a dozen performances, all on the East Coast, and all off manuscript copy, some by quite well-known performers such as Franz Kneisel, sadly, the trio was never published. Its last recorded public performance was said to have occurred 1892—truly incredible because it is an extraordinarily good work, in my opinion, a masterpiece which would certainly have seen the light of day had Huss been living in Europe. It might even have entered the front rank of the romantic trio literature.

In four movements, the massive opening Allegro molto appassionata has for its main subject a theme of destiny which carries everything before it in a dramatic and tempestuous fashion. The beautiful second theme is quite lyrical, while the passionate coda is one of the most thrilling you will find anywhere.

The second movement, Intermezzo, romance, has an exceptionally beautiful melody for its first subject, originally presented by the cello. Full of calm tranquility, there seems to me to be an undeniable American quality to this melody, having as it does, a sense of optimism and bounty. It is harmonized wonderfully. In the middle section, the opening theme to the first movement returns in the guise of a dramatically toned-down march. It lends an aura of yearning and tension which is dissipated by the peaceful ending.

The third movement, marked Scherzo, is more of a cross between an upbeat march and an intermezzo. Only of moderate tempo, the trio section is a bit slower and creates a valedictory mood. The huge last movement, simply marked Finale, opens with an introduction in which the main theme from the second movement reappears. It gives way to a buoyant allegro, full of the spirit of 19th century American “can do” sentiment. But gradually we hear many of the other themes from the earlier movements, The finale, in fact, is a very fine example of cyclicism which was then popular, especially among composers such as Wagner and César Franck and their followers. The exciting and grandiose conclusion to the trio is entirely fitting for a work of this magnitude.

We are indebted to the Rawlins Piano Trio, who made the world premiere recording (Albany Troy CD#692) for presenting us with a copy of the manuscript. Creation of the edition was entrusted to the experienced editor Skyler Silvertrust, who has several world premiere editions to his credit. The Rawlins Piano Trio also contributed to this edition by playing the draft edition and making further corrections and suggestions.

We are very proud to introduce this extraordinary work and hope that professionals and amateurs alike, after hearing the sound-bites from the Rawlins Trio recording, will be encouraged to make its acquaintance.

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Julia Smith, Trio Cornwall for Violin, Cello and Piano

Julia Smith

Trio Cornwall by the American Texas born composer Julia Smith is in three movements, the opening Allegro giusto is a bouncy melodic piece that is quite appealing. It has the feel of the New England School of composers, i.e. Beach, Foote, Chadwick et.al. A Theme and Variations comes next and has a sort of early American children’s melody as its theme. The variations are ingenious with a blues-like episode and rumba interlude of particular note. The boisterous and playful finale, Allegro quasi rondo, resembles the first movement in spirit although it is punctuated by an occasional moody interlude before concluding with a catchy hoe-down coda. This is a first rate work rate to which professionals should give serious consideration when searching for an 20th Century American work. And by a woman composer to boot."

The Chamber Music Journal Julia Smith (1911-1989) was born in Denton, Texas. She studied piano and composition first at the University of North Texas, then at the Julliard School of Music and at New York University where she obtained a doctorate. She enjoyed a career as both a concert pianist and a teacher, holding positions at Juilliard and the Hartt School of Music. She is mostly known for her large scale works such as her operas and orchestra pieces. Her style is eclectic combining elements of folk music, jazz and French impressionism. It is traditionally tonal. The Trio Cornwall dates from 1966 and has nothing to do with the English shire of Cornwall, but rather with Cornwall on the Hudson in New York State where the composer first heard bird calls which she used as thematic material for the work, especially in the first movement.

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Julia Smith, Quartet for Strings

Julia Smith Julia Smith's Quartet for Strings was composed in 1964. It is in three movements: Allegro ritmico, Lento espressivo and Allegro giocoso. It is characterized by its hard driving rhythms and constantly changing time signatures, which gives the music a continual sense of restlessness. Mostly tonal, it is not without some dissonance, but for the time, it could be considered tonally conservative. The Allegro ritmico has an upward reaching theme. The initial pizzicato accompaniment sounds rather like banjos. For the most part, the mood is one of frenetic nervous energy. The Lento begins darkly and dissonant. The theme is rather melancholic. The closing Allegro giocoso is as the title suggests is jocular and upbeat.

Julia Smith (1911-1989) was born in Denton, Texas. She studied piano and composition first at the University of North Texas, then at the Juilliard School of Music and at New York University where she obtained a doctorate. She enjoyed a career as both a concert pianist and a teacher, holding positions at Juilliard and the Hartt School of Music. She is mostly known for her large scale works such as her operas and orchestra pieces. Her style is eclectic combining elements of folk music, jazz and French impressionism. It is traditionally tonal. The Trio Cornwall dates from 1966 and has nothing to do with the English shire of Cornwall, but rather with Cornwall on the Hudson in New York State where the composer first heard bird calls which she used as thematic material for the work, especially in the first movement.

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Anton Bruckner, String Quintet in F Major

Anton Bruckner "If the only thing Bruckner had ever written for string instruments had been the slow movement to his string quintet, his reputation would have been secured for all time. The entire work is so admirable that it is hard to believe that its creator had little familiarity with string chamber music. Though true, it is hard to credit that Bruckner did not know Beethoven’s late string quartets at the time he wrote this work. Its harmonies are quite unique and characteristic of Bruckner’s love of harmonic seconds and half-tones. As a result, the intonation is at times quite difficult to get right but even amateurs need to overcome these so as to make the acquaintance of this magnificent work. The first movement, Gemäßig (moderato) entirely avoids the usual Allegro mood one expects to find in a first movement. The plastic main theme is full of yearning and developed at great length until the entrance of the lyrical second theme, which conveys almost unimaginable bliss. The second movement, Scherzo, is highly syncopated though here, as opposed to its appearance in his symphonies, it is gentler and has a melancholy, contemplative mood to it. The trio section is closely related to the old-style minuet though it is full of feeling. The aforementioned slow movement, Adagio, takes one directly to heaven. This is music of affirmation and there is no sense of resignation to an inevitable and unwished for fate. The tonal color is quite unique, especially when the cello falls silent. The main theme of the finale, Lebhaft bewegt, has a staccato motif over an organ-like underpinning. The slower delightful second theme is a real piece of Austrian folk music and the variations on it are very pleasing.”

This was the opinion of the esteemed chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Chamber Music Handbook for String Players.

Although the idea of composing a string quintet was not Bruckner’s (It was the famous Viennese violinist Joseph Hellmesberger who suggested that Bruckner should consider writing such a composition), Bruckner was flattered by the idea and produced a magnificent work that is unique within the literature.

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Paul Wranitzky, String Quintet in C Major, Op.29 No.2

Paul Wranitzky Paul Wranitzky (1756-1808) (Pavel Vranický in the Czech form) was born in the town Nová Ríše (then Neureisch) in Moravia. At age 20, like so many other Czech composers of that period, he moved to Vienna to seek out opportunities within the Austrian imperial capital. Wranitzky played a prominent role in the musical life of Vienna. He was on friendly terms and highly respected by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven who preferred him as the conductor of their new works. Wranitzky was, as so many of his contemporaries, a prolific composer. His chamber works number over 100. Although some scholars believe that Wranitzky studied with Haydn, there is no proof of this. But there can be no question that he studied and was influenced by Haydn’s quartets. Like Haydn, Wranitzky’s chamber music writing went through many stages of development beginning with the pre-classical and evolving to the finished sonata form of the late Vienna Classics. The majority of Wranitzky’s quartets and quintets are set in the three-movement format of the Parisian quatour concertant. In these works he explored the emerging Romantic style with (for the time) daring harmonic progressions, theatrical gestures, and virtuoso display.

The Op.29 Quintets date from 1794 and were first published by André in Offenbach. They are a set of three of which the Quintet in C Major is the second. Although the quintets do not bear a dedication, they may have been written with the cello-playing King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm II in mind. He had previously written a set of six string quartets for the King the year before. In any event, the cello parts are more prominent than was normal for that period. While Haydn and Mozart raised the cello to an almost equal voice within their works for the King, they avoided giving it virtuoso solo passages. Wranitzky, however, perhaps because he never really abandoned the concertante style of composition, did in fact write such solos. The cello is given substantial solos in all three of the movements, the Allegro moderato, the middle movement Adagio and the finale Allegro di molto. Copies of the André edition, upon which ours is based, can still be found in the libraries of Prague, Paris, Basle, Vienna, and London among others.

Writing about Wranitzky's chamber music in the last part of the 19th century, the famous French critic and musicologist Fetis recalled:

“The music of Wranitzky was in fashion when it was new because of his natural melodies and brilliant style…I recall that, in my youth, his works held up very well in comparison with those of Haydn. Their premature abandonment of today has been for me a source of astonishment.”

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