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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Constantin von Sternberg, Napolitana, Op.105 No.3 for Piano Trio

Constantin von Sternberg Constantin von Sternberg (1852-1924) was born in the then Russian capital St. Petersburg of ethnic German parents. He was given piano lessons locally but then at the age of 13 entered the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied piano and composition with Ignaz Moscheles, Moritz Hauptmann, and Carl Reinecke. After two years, he left and as a mere 16 year old obtained conducting positions in various organizations in Leipzig and Wurzburg. In 1871, he moved to Berlin and took further piano lessons from Theodor Kullack after which he embarked on several concert tours taking throughout Europe, Asia and the United States where he settled in the early 1880s eventually becoming an American citizen. He became director of the College of Music in Atlanta and then in 1890 founded the Sternberg School of Music in Philadelphia.

Napolitana is the last of three pieces from a suite which Sternberg composed in 1912. The first piece was entitled In den Bergen, the second, Veneziana. The third and final piece, Napolitana opens with a rousing tarantella, a dance native to Naples and southern Italy, later a more lyrical Neopolitan song is brought forth before the tarantella returns to create an exciting finale.

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Giovanni Bottesini, Gran Quintetto (String Quintet) in c minor, Op.99

Giovanni Bottesini Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889) was born in the northern Italian town of Crema. His first music lessons were from his father a professional clarinetist and composer. He studied violin locally and applied for a scholarship to the Milan Conservatory and might have pursued a career as a violinist but for the fact that there were no openings for violinists, only one for a bass player. He hastily took up the bass and won the scholarship. His talent was such that after graduating he was able to embark on a solo career and soon became known as the Paganini of the Double Bass. He traveled widely not only throughout Europe but he also visited the United States and briefly served as principal double-bass in the Italian opera at Havana. Apart from his triumphs as a performer, Bottesini was a conductor of European reputation, and conducted at several important opera houses including the Théâtre des Italiens in Paris as well as the Lyceum Theatre in London. He was chosen by Verdi to conduct the first performance of Aida. Besides several operas and many works for double bass, he composed several string quartets as well as a number of quintets for string quartet and double bass. His works for bass remain standard repertoire for accomplished double bassists to this day.

Bottesini wrote his Gran Quintetto in c minor in 1858 while sojourning in Naples. It was dedicated to his friend Saverio Mercadante, who had written a string quintet for Paganini. The opening movement, Allegro moderato, begins in dramatic fashion, with the first violin singing a fetching operatic melody. This subject goes through extensive and interesting development. A heavily accented, pounding Scherzo serves as the second movement. A gentler trio section provides a nice contrast. The Adagio which follows is a combination of relaxed, delicate, long lined melodies, which in the middle are suddenly interrupted by a storm-like, highly dramatic, powerful episode. The finale, Allegro con brio, begins with a series of downward plunging passages creating a sense of urgency before the appearance of a march-like, triumphant theme.

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Erkki Melartin, String Quartet No.1 in e minor, Op.36 No.1

Erkki Melartin Erkki Melartin's String Quartet No.1 in e minor is the first of a set of three published as his Op.36 in 1904, the manuscripts to these quartets can be found in the library of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Our edition is based on those manuscripts. Although published simultaneously, they were not written one after the other but over a period of six years. No.1 dates from 1896 when the composer was 21. It is in four movements and begins with an Allegro that features a lovely opening theme, somewhat on the melancholy side. A light, perhaps Brahmsian second subject follows. The second movement, Menuetto, scherzando is a blend of an updated minuet as a kind of relaxed scherzo. It comes with a finely contrasting trio. The Andante which serves as the third movement, though not so marked is an attractive theme followed by a series of original sounding and engaging variations. The finale, Presto, burst forth and comes to a sudden stop before finally taking off at full speed. The main subject conveys a sense of urgency. It is followed by a more genial second theme.

Erkki Melartin (1875-1937) was born in the Finnish town of Käkisalmi. He studied with Martin Wegelius in Helsinki and then in Vienna with Robert Fuchs. He pursued a career as a composer, conductor and teacher, serving as the director of the Helsinki Conservatory. He was a prolific composer who wrote in most genres. His music shows the influence of Mahler and is primarily written in the late, post Brahmsian idiom. He did not ignore chamber music and composed a piano quintet, a string quintet, four string quartets and several short works for piano trio. Unfortunately, most of these have remained languishing in manuscript form in libraries and have not been published. His work, as the quartet clearly shows, is quite accomplished and indicates that he was a first rate composer whose music deserves to enter the repertoire and to be heard on a regular basis.

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Ferdinand David, Salonstücke, Op. 28

Perhaps it was coincidence, but Ferdinand David (1810-1873) was born in the same house in Hamburg as Felix Mendelssohn one year later. The two became colleagues and friends. David studied violin with the famous virtuoso Louis Spohr. He served as concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under the baton of Mendelssohn and held the position of Professor of Violin at the Leipzig Conservatory. Among his many famous students were Joseph Joachim and August Wilhelmj. His name has endured as the editor of several famous chamber music works and as well as pieces for the violin. Among his compositions still in use are his Advanced School of Violin Playing and Art of Bowing.

David wrote four series of Salon Stücke or Salon Pieces, his Opp.24, 25, 28 and 36. The Op.28 is the third of the series and was completed in 1850 and published the year after. The title David gave to these pieces is somewhat misleading, implying that are merely works for the salon. Nothing could be further from the truth—to the contrary they combine the radicalism of his good friend Schumann, but dressed up in appealing garb. However, these are not mere morsels, but substantial pieces, all fit for the recital hall. The Op.28 consists of five pieces. Notturno, Barcarole, Lied, Romanze and Capriccio.

Although all five pieces could make up an entire recital work or even a short program and though they are the equal of a full length sonata, it seems likely that David did not intend for all to be performed at one time. Indeed, they were sold separately and collectively in three books of four. What was intended was for the performer to pick a few to make up half a recital program or to use any one for a suitable encore. Tremendously popular throughout the 19th century, this is how they were heard in concert—and they were heard often, because they are highly attractive works. The Salonstücke are historically important because they are a mirror of the Biedermeier era from which they come. They give us a first hand glance at what was being performed at mid century.

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Guillaume Lekeu - Piano Quartet

Guillaume Lekeu Lekeu’s Piano Quartet was commissioned by Eugène Ysaÿe, the famous violinist and his fellow countryma. The quartet was begun in 1893 and completed the following year. The first movement, Dan un emportement douloureux (in a transport of grief) a massive affair could be regarded as at least two movements in one. Some commentators have noted four distinct sections. It begins in a furious and turbulent fashion. Through the torrents of powerful emotion, lyrical melodies break through like the sun through storm clouds. The second movement, Lent e passione, according to Lekeu’s own letters was to be a nocturne and a love scene. He died, unfortunately before completing it. D’Indy’s contribution was merely adding a seven bar ending.

Guillaume Lekeu (1870-94) was born in the village of Heusy in Belgium and began his musical studies at a conservatory nearby. In 1888, his family moved to Paris and he entered the Paris Conservatory where first he studied with César Franck and after Franck's death, with Vincent d'Indy. Tragically, Lekeu died of typhoid fever just after his 24th birthday. The usually critical Debussy regarded Lekeu to be as talented as Franck and d'Indy regarded him a genius. In addition to his Violin Sonata, he completed a string quartet, a piano trio and a partially finished piano quartet.

This is a first class work which is the equal of any of piano quartet from this period.

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Philippe Gaubert, Trois Aquarelles

Philippe Gaubert Philippe Gaubert's Trois Aquarelles imply that these three watercolors will be miniatures or character pieces, but really this is not the case. To the contrary, they are fully developed, substantial movements and he could and perhaps should have simply entitled the work Trio. Gaubert completed them in 1921 and intended them to be played by a standard piano trio, that is, a violin, cello and piano. As an afterthought, he decided that they might also sound well with flute, cello and piano. And surprisingly, it is in this combination that the work became known, although, it is equally effective in both versions. The first part, Par un clair matin (On a clear morning) is cheerful and energetic. The second movement, Soleil, d'automne (Autumn sun) is more subdued and gentle with a touch of melancholy, a kind of elegiac nostalgia for the summer which is gone. The third piece, Sérénade, has a Spanish flavor, or perhaps it is Basque, in the region where Gaubert had a summer home.

Philippe Gaubert (1879-1941) was born in the southern French town of Cahors. He studied flute with Paul Taffanel at the Paris Conservatory and became the leading flautist in France for several decades. He pursued a career as a performer, became conductor of the Paris Opera Orchestra and Professor of Flute at the Paris Conservatory. Not surprisingly, most of his compositions include the flute.

This is a first class work which deserves to be heard in concert and will also be enjoyed by amateur players.

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Wenzel Heinrich Veit - String Quartet No.2 in E Major, Op.5

Wenzel Heinrich Veit "Wenzel Veit's String Quartet No.2 in E Major dates from 1835 and was praised by Robert Schumann for its style and workmanship. The work opens with somber introduction which leads to a more upbeat Allegro vivace. The second movement, Adagio cantabile quasi Andante, has the quality of a leisurely, slow paced intermezzo with lovely long-lined melodies. Next comes a hard driving downward plunging Scherzo. Presto with contrasting Alternativo. The finale, Rondo, Allegro non tanto, has for its main theme, a lovely and ingratiating melody which Veit develops quite attractively."

—The noted chamber music critic and connoisseur Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.

Wenzel Heinrich Veit (1804-1864) was born in Repnitz, at the time a German town in the Bohemian part of the Habsburg Empire. Until recently, he was ignored by the Czechs who have suddenly claimed him as one of theirs and have "baptized" him with the Czech version of his name Vaclav Jindrich Veit. Veit attended Charles University in Prague and studied law. He pursued a dual career of lawyer and judge as well as composer, mostly in Prague, although for a short time he held musical directorships in Aachen and Augsburg. Although he he wrote a symphony, most of his works are either for voice or chamber ensembles, including 4 string quartets and 5 string quintets which were highly praised by Robert Schumann.

The reason Veit and his music were ignored by the Czechs was two fold. First, because he was an ethnic German. But Veit was not a German nationalist. To the contrary, he supported an independent Bohemia, took the trouble as an adult to master the Czech language and wrote many songs in Czech using Czech folk melody. The second reason his music was ignored was that it did not sound Slavic enough. But this ignores the time period in which he wrote which was before the Czech national awakening. The Wranitzkys, Krommer, Vanhal and many others all moved to Vienna and there is nothing particularly Slavic about their music either, but now they all have been repatriated as Czechs in good standing. They, however, were at least ethnic Czechs. But the truth with regard to Veit is that he was the most important Bohemian writer of chamber music before Dvořák. And, he did use Czech folk music in some of his works. What is unfair is that now, even English sources (such as Wikipedia) wrongly refer to him by the Czech version of his name. A name he never used and which does not appear either on his baptismal certificate or gravestone. But music surmounts petty nationalism and we can all enjoy his fine compositions.

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Eduard Nápravník, Piano Quartet in a minor, Op.42

Eduard Nápravník “Eduard Nápravník’s 1883 Op.42 Piano Quartet in a minor consists of four big movements of true musical spirit, the outer movements being somewhat orchestral in style in which the composer sometimes groups the strings together against the piano playing unisono. This work can be warmly recommended to experienced players who will always get considerable pleasure from playing this work. The powerful main theme of the first movement, Allegro con spirito, is quite Russian. The second subject is more lyrical and he knows how to cleverly build up to a transition. The Scherzo presto, which comes next features an unusual rhythm which gives the music piquancy while the trio section has a very Russian flavor in part created by the use of repetitive passages. The very fine third movement, Molto moderato quasi Marcia funebre, brings an original sounding funeral march, both themes making a strong impression. The quartet concludes with an Allegro risoluto characterized by bright Russian dance rhythms.”

Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for Piano Quartet Players.

Eduard Nápravník (1839-1916) was born in Bohemian town of Beischt (now Býšť), in what was then the Habsburg Empire. He learned to play the organ at his local church and then entered the Prague Organ School after which he obtained an appointment to serve as conductor of the famous private orchestra of Prince Yusupov in St. Petersburg. Thereafter he served as conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre and later several Imperial Theaters. He became an influential figure in Russian musical life and was even mentioned in Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov as a famous conductor. He premiered several of Tchaikovsky’s works and assisted the composer in tightening up certain scores. He wrote in most genres but today is remembered for his most successful opera, Dubrovsky. He did not neglect chamber music writing three string quartets, a string quintet, two piano trios, a piano quartet and several instrumental works.

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Friedrich Kuhlau, Piano Quartet No.1 in c minor, Op.32

Friedrich Kuhlau Friedrich Kuhlau's Piano Quartet No.1 in c minor, Op.32 dates from 1820. The opening Allegro, to this three movement work, is on a grand scale and is probably longer than the remaining two movements which follow. The writing is certainly as advanced as Beethoven’s The Geistertrio, Op.70. Kuhlau is said to have been partial to scale passages and here they are prominently featured. The Adagio, whose first theme is a simple folk melody, is extraordinarily beautiful and full of lyricism. The concluding Allegro is a rondo which begins in c minor and is full of dramatic rhythmic drive leading to a very original and bright finish. Though the piano is given some bravura passages and even a cadenza in the first movement, it must be emphasized that the writing for the strings is good and for the whole ensemble extremely effective.

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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Sergei Taneyev, String Quartet No.9 in A Major

Sergei Taneyev Sergei Taneyev's String Quartet No.9 in A Major is the third of three string quartets he composed between 1880 and 1885 and before he wrote his String Quartet No.1Allegro moderato is sunny and slightly Russian sounding. Tchaikovsky, whom Taneyev asked to review his manuscript, wrote on it that the movement was very elegant. The second movement, Andante, is quite lyrical and song like. Tchaikovsky especially liked the lively Russian-sounding third movement, marked Scherzo, Allegro con fuoco. The trio section is calmer and provides an excellent contrast. The Finale, Allegro giocoso, is a modern version of a rondo characterized by its rhythmically interesting main subject.

Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915) is one of the greatest Russian composers from the last half of the 19th and early 20th centuries and probably, from this group, the one whose music is the least known in the West. Taneyev came from an aristocratic family that patronized the arts and when Sergei's talent became apparent, his father sent him to the newly opened Moscow Conservatory at the age of 10. His main teachers there were Nicolai Rubinstein for piano and Tchaikovsky for composition. Although he became a brilliant pianist, Taneyev opted for a career as a composer and teacher and soon became a professor at the Conservatory. His fame both as a teacher and as a composer quickly spread. Among his many students were Glière, Rachmaninov, Gretchaninov, Scriabin and Medtner. In Russian concert halls, one always finds a bust of Taneyev alongside those of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. Sadly, the fame of this outstanding composer has not spread beyond his homeland. Influenced by Tchaikovsky, Taneyev preferred to write "pure" music rather than Russian-sounding or so-called "nationalistic" music based on Russian folk melodies. As such, he remained outside of the famous Nationalist School headed by Rimsky-Korsakov at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and his music sounds markedly different from that of Rimsky and his famous students such as Borodin and Glazunov.

Our world premiere edition was made from the score by our senior editors Tomasz Golinski and Raymond Silvertrust.This is a magnificient work, in our opinion a masterpiece deserving of concert performance and the attention of amateurs. We are very proud to have made this work available and warmly recommend it to your attention

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Philippe Gaubert, Medailles Antiques for Flute, Violin and Piano

Philippe Gaubert's Philippe Gaubert's Medailles Antiques, composed in 1916 are two neoclassical short tone poems: Nymphes à la Fontaine and Danses. It is not clear why Gaubert chose a title such Medailles Antiques (Ancient Medals) when the titles to the two movements appear to have nothing to do with medals. However, it is quiet possible that Gaubert was thinking of the Cabinet des Medailles, a part of the French National Library which houses old coins and other valuable antiquities and perhaps he had come across something which reminded him of these. In any event, these are two lovely pieces, good for concert.

Philippe Gaubert (1879-1941) was born in the southern French town of Cahors. He studied flute with Paul Taffanel at the Paris Conservatory and became the leading flautist in France for several decades. He pursued a career as a performer, became conductor of the Paris Opera Orchestra and Professor of Flute at the Paris Conservatory. Not surprisingly, most of his compositions include the flute.

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Janusz de Kopczynski, String Quartet No.1 in D Major, Op.9 'On Russian Themes'

Very little information is available about the Polish composer Janusz de Kopczyński. Even his dates of birth and death are not certain. French sources state he was born in 1831 but the Polish National Library lists him as being born in 1838. As for his death, the Polish National Library notes it was after 1882, perhaps 1883. What little we know comes from two 19th century French dictionaries: Les musiciens polonais et slaves, anciens et modernes (1857); and Biographie universelle des musiciens et bibliographie générale de la Musique (1884). The entries on Kopczynski are quite brief. They tell us that he was born on the estate of his family near Horokhiv in western Ukraine. From his surname, we can deduce that he was part of the Polish nobility. He studied piano with Ignacy Platon Kozlowski, a student of John Field, in the Podolian town of Vinnytsia. Some time in the 1850s, he subsequently traveled to Paris where he studied piano and composition with the piano virtuoso Charles Valentin Alkan. It is reported that he became a very accomplished pianist. While in Paris, he wrote several works for piano in the then popular style brillant that achieved some degree of popularity. Virtually nothing is known of his later life.

His String Quartet in D Major was not published until 1912 when it was brought out by the Polish firm of Anton Piwarski of Cracow. From the cover, which is in French, we can see that it is listed as his first string quartet and it is subtitled On Russian Themes. It is unknown if he wrote a second. Though published in 1912, it seems unlikely that it was composed anytime around then. Rather, judging from the style, its opus number, and the cover which is in French despite the fact that the music was engraved in Germany and published Poland, makes it seem more likely that the Quartet was composed sometime in the 1860s or early 1870s, perhaps while Kopczynski was still in France. Of course it is possible, though unlikely, that Kopczynski could still have been alive in 1912, but he would have been near or in his 80s and few composers were active so late. Unfortunately, until more information can be found, all of this is just an educated guess. Kopczynski may have got the idea of writing a quartet on Russian folk melodies from his teacher Kozlowski who wrote an Opera, Marylla czyli Dożynki (Marylla or the Harvest Festival) which is based on Ukrainian themes.

Kopczynski's quartet is in four movements and each movement is based on one or more well-known Russian folk melodies. Right from the opening bars of the first movement, Allegro moderato, comes a stately, famous Russian folk tune. After its development comes a jaunty melody, obviously another Russian folk melody. The second movement, Andante, is a theme and set of variations. The lovely theme is sad and plaintive. The variations are interesting and well-done. Next comes a lively Presto prefaced by a short, slower introduction. The finale, a Rondo Allegro vivo, like the preceding movement, begins with a brief, slow introduction, Un poco con moto e sostenuto. The theme in the Allegro is a bright, charming Russian peasant dance.

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Benjamin Godard, Piano Trio No.2 in F Major, Op.72

Benjamin Godard "Benjamin Godard's two piano trios are delightful and are to be unhesitatingly recommended." This was the opinion of Walter Wilson Cobbett, editor of the highly respected guide to chamber music, Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music.

Piano Trio No.2 dates from 1884. It clearly shows his ability to write in a dramatic vein while at the same time showcasing his considerable lyrical talent which his contemporaries constantly praised. The opening movement Allegro moderato begins with the strings singing a cantabile melody over the syncopated resistance in the piano. The harmonic writing is very sophisticated. The tender melody of the second movement, Adagio, creates a sunny mood which is only briefly interrupted by a few shadows in the middle section. The playful Vivace with its warbling birdsong serves as a scherzo. The dotted rhythm and swelling melody of the stormy finale, Allegro vivace, gives the music an almost Hungarian flavor.

Benjamin Godard (1849-95) was born in Paris. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire composition with Henri Reber and violin with Henri Vieuxtemps. He was somewhat of a prodigy on that instrument, as well as on the viola, and accompanied Vieuxtemps to Germany on concert tours on two occasions. Godard enjoyed chamber music and played in several performing ensembles. This experience stood him good stead when it came to writing effective chamber music compositions. In 1878, Godard was the co-winner with Théodore Dubois, head of the Paris Conservatory, of a musical competition instituted by the city of Paris.

He composed music with great facility and from 1878 to the time until his death Godard composed a surprisingly large number of works, including the opera Jocelyn, from which the famous "Berceuse" has become perhaps his best-known work. He also composed several symphonic works, ballets, concertos, overtures and chamber music, including three string quartets and two piano trios.

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Benjamin Godard, Piano Trio No.1 in g minor, Op.32

Benjamin Godard "Benjamin Godard's two piano trios are delightful and are to be unhesitatingly recommended." This was the opinion of Walter Wilson Cobbett, editor of the highly respected guide to chamber music, Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music.

Benjamin Godard (1849-95) was born in Paris. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire composition with Henri Reber and violin with Henri Vieuxtemps. He was somewhat of a prodigy on that instrument, as well as on the viola, and accompanied Vieuxtemps to Germany on concert tours on two occasions. Godard enjoyed chamber music and played in several performing ensembles. This experience stood him good stead when it came to writing effective chamber music compositions. In 1878, Godard was the co-winner with Théodore Dubois, head of the Paris Conservatory, of a musical competition instituted by the city of Paris.

He composed music with great facility and from 1878 to the time until his death Godard composed a surprisingly large number of works, including the opera Jocelyn, from which the famous "Berceuse" has become perhaps his best-known work. He also composed several symphonic works, ballets, concertos, overtures and chamber music, including three string quartets and two piano trios.

Piano Trio No.1 dates from 1880 and for many years enjoyed considerable popularity. The restless, opening Allegro begins with a turbulent theme in which the piano is given a fast running passage softly played beneath the longer-lined melody in the strings. A second theme is quieter and of a reflective nature. The following Tempo di Minuetto is not a minuet but a bouncy, highly accented scherzo. The middle section has a Russian orthodox church-like melody which is cleverly interrupted by the sprightly first theme after almost every utterance, creating an original effect. The third movement Andante is a simple but beautiful lovers' duet. First the violin the calls out, then the cello answers. Eventually, they join in and sing together. The finale, Allegro, follows without pause. It begins in the same turbulent theme that began the trio, although in a slightly altered form. Godard actually brings back each of the earlier themes from the preceding movements, but ingeniously clothes in a quite different guise.

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Benjamin Godard, String Quartet No.1 in g minor, Op.33

Benjamin Godard Benjamin Godard (1849-95) was born in Paris. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire composition with Henri Reber and violin with Henri Vieuxtemps. He was somewhat of a prodigy on that instrument, as well as on the viola, and accompanied Vieuxtemps to Germany on concert tours on two occasions. Godard enjoyed chamber music and played in several performing ensembles. This experience stood him good stead when it came to writing effective chamber music compositions. In 1878, Godard was the co-winner with Théodore Dubois, head of the Paris Conservatory, of a musical competition instituted by the city of Paris. He composed music with great facility and from 1878 to the time until his death Godard composed a surprisingly large number of works, including the opera Jocelyn, from which the famous "Berceuse" has become perhaps his best-known work. He also composed several symphonic works, ballets, concertos, overtures and chamber music, including three string quartets and two piano trios.

Writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players, the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmannhas this to say about Godard’s String Quartet No.1:

“Godard’s First String Quartet dates from 1882 and demonstrates the composer not only has total command of quartet movement technique but also knows how to write a good fugue. The spirited, lyrical theme of the energetic first movement, Allegro, is highly appealing. The unusually harmonic twists and tonal effects are particularly effective. The second movement, Andantino, is a very pleasing theme and set of variations. A short playful pizzicato introduction introduces precedes the charming theme. A short, gorgeous Andante quasi adagio is a lovely song without words. The finale consists of a bustling and quite effective Allegro. Amateurs will certainly enjoy this richly melodic quartet which is strong enough for the concert hall where it is sure to win friends.”

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Theodor Kirchner, Bunte Blätter for Piano Trio

Theodor Kirchner Theodor Kirchner (1823-1903) was widely considered to be the undisputed master of the character piece, a short kind of free form work. Kirchner literally wrote hundreds of such pieces that can rightly be considered little gems, little masterpieces.

He was born in the town of Neukirchen near Chemnitz in the German province of Saxony. He showed a prodigious musical talent at an early age, however, his father was reluctant to let him study music. It was only after hearing both Schumann and Mendelssohn highly praise his son’s talent that he permitted Theodor to attend the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied with Mendelssohn, among others. It was upon Mendelssohn’s recommendation that Kirchner in 1843 obtained his first position as organist of the main church in Winterthur in Switzerland. He was a friend of both Robert and Clara Schumann as well as Brahms.

Kirchner’s compositional talent was widely respected and held in the highest regard by Schumann, Brahms, Liszt, Wagner and many others. But Kirchner, found himself unable to write large-scale works. Rather, he excelled at writing miniatures. He would often write several at a time and then publish them together, each with a different mood and feel and each perfect in its own way.

Though primarily known, during his lifetime, as an organist, pianist and teacher, he wrote more than 1,000 works, most are short and for the piano, although he did write a small amount of very appealing chamber music, primarily for piano trio.

The Seven Character Pieces were originally published in 1888 as his Op.83, a set of 12 pieces he titled "Bunte Blätter" (“brightly colored leaves” in German). Our edition is based on the original, but we have selected what we consider to be the best of the set and have arranged them in an appealing order for concert performance, although, because none of the pieces are longer than 4 minutes, any of them would surely make an excellent encore. Both amateurs and professionals alike will find these pieces much to their taste.

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Peter Heise, Piano Trio in E flat Major

Peter Heise Peter Heise (1830-1879) was born in Copenhagen where he studied locally before attending the Leipzig Conservatory. Heise was of the generation for whom Mendelssohn. and Schumann. were the guiding lights. He was also influenced by his fellow countryman, Niels Gade. He did not find Wagner and the tonal ideas of the New German School to his taste. Upon his return to Copenhagen, he made a name for himself as a song writer although he composed in most genres. His opera Drot og Marsk (King & Marshall) was widely regarded the finest Danish opera of the 19th century. Although his instrumental works are almost uniformly excellent, because of the tremendous popularity of his songs, they were overlooked. Among his chamber music works are 6 string quartets, a piano trio, this piano quintet, and a number of instrumental sonatas.

On a trip to Rome, Heise met and befriended the Italian composer and pianist, Giovanni Sgambati. The Trio, which dates from 1869, is dedicated to Sgambati. The music is characterized by youthful energy and elan. The movements are overflowing with melodic ideas, most taken from Nordic folk music. The opening movement, Allegro molto risoluto, begins in a typically classical Beethovenian fashion, but the melodic writing is clearly romantic, especially the lyrical second theme. In the second movement, Andantino, one can clearly hear from the wonderful vocal qualities of the melodies, that Heise, like Mozart and Schubert, was a superb composer for voice. The movement might well be subtitled, Romance. It is by turns dramatic, sensitive and wistful. A scherzo, Presto—Vivace, follows. Taken at a furious tempo, the music is full of high spirits, while the Nordic sounding trio surely must have influenced Grieg. Again, in the finale, Allegro con spirito, Heise relies on Nordic folk music for his themes from which he fashions an appealing dancing melody. Against this comes a highly romantic second theme.

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Peter Heise, Piano Quintet in F Major

Peter Heise Peter Heise (1830-1879) was born in Copenhagen where he studied locally before attending the Leipzig Conservatory. Heise was of the generation for whom Mendelssohn. and Schumann. were the guiding lights. He was also influenced by his fellow countryman, Niels Gade. He did not find Wagner and the tonal ideas of the New German School to his taste. Upon his return to Copenhagen, he made a name for himself as a song writer although he composed in most genres. His opera Drot og Marsk (King & Marshall) was widely regarded the finest Danish opera of the 19th century. Although his instrumental works are almost uniformly excellent, because of the tremendous popularity of his songs, they were overlooked. Among his chamber music works are 6 string quartets, a piano trio, this piano quintet, and a number of instrumental sonatas.

After hearing Brahms' Piano Quintet, which he did not find to his taste, Heise decided that he could write a piano quintet which was just as good or better. Whether he did this is a matter of personal opinion but there is no denying that this piano quintet, which dates from 1869, is a superb work which did not deserve to lie in oblivion for 140 years. The opening movement, Lento a piacere-Allegro energico, after a brief slow, formal introduction, which ends with a piano flourish, literally takes off in a burst of energy. The lovely theme is full of optimism and good spirits. This is follows by an attractive and lyrical second section, which in turn is followed by an appealing third section. The music is simply brimming with ideas. The lovely second movement, Larghetto, has an undeniable vocal quality. The strings alone introduce the finely wrought main theme which is of a highly romantic nature. The piano enters bring a heightened sense of drama. A lively scherzo, Intermezzo, vivace ma non troppo presto, follows. The music has an airy Italian quality to it. The finale, Lento con expressione-Allegro molto, begins with a slow, mildly sad introduction. The main part of the movement bustles forward and is in the grand manner.

We are proud to present the world premiere edition which is based on the original manuscript in the Royal Danish Library of Copenhagen. It has been carefully edited and corrected by Senior Editor Skyler Silvertrust who has many world premiere editions to his credit. Professionals and amateurs who take the time to make this works acquaintance will be well rewarded.

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