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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Vissarion Shebalin, String Quartet No.8 in C Major, Op.53

Vissarion Shebalin By the time Shebalin wrote his String Quartet No.8 in C Major, Op.53 during 1960, he had had a serious stroke which had left him paralyzed on his right side. He was forced to learn how to write with his left hand, which he did. The Quartet begins with an interesting Andante. It leads to an Allegro, which is a cross between a scherzo and a march. A dark-hued Adagio comes next and has quicker middle section. The last movement, Allegro has an immediacy and sense of urgency. This can perhaps be explained by the fact that while working on the it, Shebalin’s doctors estimated his remaining life not in hours but in minutes.

Writing of his visit to Shostakovich, the Polish composer Krzystztof Meyer said that in Shostakovich’s study he found pictures of only three composers: Mahler, Mussorgsky and Shebalin. Not only Shostakovich but most of Shebalin’s contemporaries regarded him as being in the front rank of composers from their generation. Vissarion Shebalin (1902-63) was born in Omsk, Siberia where he began his musical studies. Later at the Moscow Conservatory, he studied under Myaskovsky. During the 1920’s he was attracted by modernism, but during the 1930’s he was drawn to traditionalism with its attachment to folkloric melodies. By 1942, he was appointed director of the Moscow Conservatory. When Stalin came to power, Shebalin was forced, as were all of the other major Soviet composers, to find some sort of modus vivendi with Socialist Realism. Although his music is well-known within Russia, it is virtually never heard outside of it. Chamber music always interested Shebalin and constitutes a sizable part of his output. His nine string quartets span the length of his entire career from student right up until his death. They are an important body of work which deserves to be better known and to be performed.

This is another important Soviet string quartet. Within Russia the quartets of Shebalin are held in the highest regard. It surprising that they have never made a mark abroad. This quartet deserves to be heard in concert but can be managed by amateurs as well.

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Joseph Wölfl, Piano Trio in c minor, Op.23 No.3

Joseph Wölfl Joseph Wölfl (1773-1812), (the name is often spelled Woelfl) was born in Salzburg. He studied violin, piano and composition there with Leopold Mozart (Wolfgang’s father) and Michael Haydn (Joseph’s brother). In 1790, he moved to Vienna where it is thought he briefly studied with Wolfgang Mozart. Wölfl became a virtuoso pianist and was sometimes considered to be Beethoven’s equal. It was on Wolfgang’s recommendation the Wölfl was able to procure a position with Count Michal Casimir Oginski as a piano teacher in Warsaw. During the political upheavals in Poland he returned to Vienna and then began a career as a touring concert pianist, eventually settling in Paris (1801-1805) and then London where he spent the rest of his life. Wölfl wrote operas, ballets, symphonies, works for piano, songs and quite a lot of chamber music, including some 25 string quartets, 3 string quintets, 15 standard piano trios and several others for various instrumental combinations with piano. In addition to this, he wrote dozens of sonatas and other works for violin and piano, flute and piano and harp and piano. Wölfl's music is of a very high quality and it would not be an exaggeration to say it the equal to Haydn's. It was often performed during his lifetime and for several decades thereafter when it inexplicably disappeared from concert stages.

The Piano Trio, Op.23 No.3 in c minor is the last of a set of three which were published in 1803 and completed the year before, while he was sojourning in Paris. The opening movement, Allegro, begins with a short hesitant introduction which leads to the main section, a Mozartean fluid affair, elegant but with much forward motion. The main subject of the second movement, Andante, sound rather like an aria. In the Haydnesque third movement, Menuetto, presto, bursts out of the gate at full speed and never lets up. The finale, Allegretto, though not so marked is a theme and set of interesting variations. Unlike the piano trios of Haydn and Mozart, where the cello is virtually an afterthought, here the cello is given a real part to play and is not just a double of the piano bass line.

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Witold Maliszewski, String Quartet No.1 in F Major, Op.2

Witold Maliszewski Witold Maliszewski (1873-1939) was born in the town of Mohyliv-Podilskyi, then part of Russian Poland now located in Ukraine. His initial studies were at the Imperial Conservatory in Tiflis (now Tbilisi) with Mikhail Ivanov-Ippolitov. He then attended the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he studied with Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov. In 1908, he obtained the position of conductor of the Odessa Symphony Orchestra. He was active in Odessa until 1920 and was a founder and first director of the Odessa Conservatory. Due to the Russian Revolution, he moved to Warsaw in 1920 where he held several positions, including Professor of Composition at the Warsaw Conservatory. He composed in most genres and his chamber music was held in particularly high regard, winning several competition prizes.

His String Quartet No.1 in F Major, Op.2 dates from 1903. The opening movement, Moderato, has for its main theme a rather moving elegaic melody and the conclusion of the movement is particularly effective. The jovial Scherzo, allegro vivo, which comes next, plays well and is original sounding. The Andante con moto is full of Slavic charm. The finale, Allegro, is another very effective movement with a magnificent fugue in the middle.

This is quite an appealing work, with fine string writing for all of the voices, many tuneful melodies and original touches. It has been out of print for more than a century. Certainly it should not be missed by amateurs but professionals can count on it being a success in the concert hall where it is sure to be well received.

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Albéric Magnard, Quintet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon & Piano, Op.8

Albéric Magnard Albéric Magnard (1865-1914) was born in Paris to wealthy parents. His father François Magnard was a bestselling author and editor of the Paris newspaper Le Figaro. After military service and graduating from law school, he entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied counterpoint with Théodore Dubois, Jules Massenet and Vincent d'Indy. Magnard's musical output numbered only 22 works with opus numbers. Larger compositions such as symphonies were his main area of interest, however, he did write a piano trio, this string quartet and some instrumental sonatas. Magnard's musical style is typical of French composers contemporaneous to him, but occasionally, there are passages that foreshadow the music of Gustav Mahler. Magnard's use of cyclical form was influenced by César Franck

His Quintet for Piano and Winds dates from 1894. It is a big work painted a broad canvas. The first movement, Sombre, shows the influence of Debussy as well as some of the lush tonalities of the late Romantics. Beginning almost in mid-phrase, it is anything but somber. Rather it is light and impassioned. There is considerable tension, including a fugal section in the middle before the movement calmly concludes. The second movement Tendre, on the other hand is somber, beginning with a long meditative duo between the clarinet and the piano. The Leger, which follows, fulfills the function of a scherzo and trio, sounding as if written by a latter day French Mendelssohn, beginning at first in a spooky mood before brightening. The finale, Joyeux, begins resolutely and sound almost like battle music, making a boisterous and triumphant conclusion to the work.

Virtually impossible to obtain for many years, we are pleased to make this first class quartet available once more. It should certainly be on the list of repertoire of works for winds and piano.

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Benjamin Godard, Six Duettini for Two Violins & Piano, Op.18

Benjamin Godard Godard's Six Duettini for Two Violins and Piano, Op.18 dates from 1878. They consist of six contrasting pieces all of them fairly short except for the last one, Serenade in the Spanish Style which is a bit of a barn burner. Romantic and tuneful, all six can be played together in recital as the length of a full sonata or separately as encores.

Benjamin Godard (1849-95) was born in Paris. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire composition with 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 up 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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Johan Wilhelm Wilms, Piano Quartet No.1 in C Major, Op.22

Johan Wilhelm Wilms Johan Wilms' Piano Quartet No.1 in C Major was published in 1808 but most scholars believe that it was composed a decade earlier around the turn of the century. In style, it builds on Haydn and Mozart but already shows an awareness of the emerging Romantic era and as such can be said to be a link between those composers and Mendelssohn and Schumann. The opening movement, Allegro, is bright and upbeat with lovely, free flowing melodies. The second movement, Adagio, is delicate with long-lined vocal tunes. Next is a short, fleet Scherzando, allegro, it bears similarities to Beethoven's works from the same period. The finale is a graceful Polonaise allegretto, which could actually be danced to.

Johan Wilhelm Wilms (1772–1847) was born in the German town of Witzhelden. After lessons from his father in piano and composition, Wilms studied flute on his own, and then moved to Amsterdam in 1791 and obtained a position playing flute in an orchestra there. Soon his talent as a pianist was recognized and he became a soloist, giving the Dutch premieres of the piano concertos of Mozart and Beethoven. Today, in the Netherlands, he is still remembered for composing the music to the first Dutch national anthem. He wrote in most genres and his works were frequently praised in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung to which he was also a contributor.

We have reprinted the first edition of 1808. This quartet would make a good choice where a work from the classical era is required.

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Woldemar Bargiel, String Quartet No.3 in a minor, Op.15b

Woldemar Bargiel Woldemar Bargiel (1828-97) was Clara Schumann’s half brother. Throughout their lives, they enjoyed a warm relationship and thanks to Clara, Bargiel was introduced to both Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn who encouraged him to study at the famous Leipzig Conservatory with two of the leading men of music: Ignaz Moscheles (piano) and Niels Gade (composition). Bargiel held positions at the conservatories in Cologne and Rotterdam before accepting a position at the prestigious Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin where he taught for the rest of his life. Among his many students were Paul Juon and Leopold Godowsky. While Bargiel did not write a lot of music, most of what he composed was well thought out and shows solid musical craftsmanship. His chamber music—he wrote four string quartets, a string octet and three piano trios—represents an important part of his output.

Bargiel’s String Quartet No.3 in a minor, Op.15b was composed in 1850 but remained unpublished until 1877. It was dedicated to Emmanuel Wirth, violist of the Joachim Quartet of Berlin. It is a fairly concise work in four movements. The opening Allegro ma non troppo has a lyrical Mendelsohnian theme filled with yearning. The main section of the second movement Allegretto commodo is characterized more by its thrusting rhythm than by any melodic material. By contrast, the trio section has an appealing melody given out alone by the first violin over pizzicato accompaniment. The Andante which follows is romantic and mostly calm. The finale, Vivace ed energico, is energetic and full of forward motion.

This quartet is fun to play and can be warmly recommended to amateurs but is also strong enought to be presented in concert. Out of print for a century or more, we are pleased to make it available once again.

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Stanislav Moniuszko, String Quartet No.2 in F Major

Stanisław Moniuszko Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) was born into a family of Polish landowners in Ubiel, not far from Minsk in what was then Russian Poland, now Belarus. When he was 9, his family moved to Warsaw where he began piano lessons. Both his talent and interest justified sending him to Berlin to continue his studies. While in Berlin, he had an unexpected early success when he set three songs to the words of the Polish national poet, Adam Mickiewicz. Moniuszko was to become the foremost 19th century composer of Polish song.

The source of his melodies and rhythmic patterns can usually be found in Polish folkdances such as the polonaise, mazurka, krakowiak, kujawiak and oberek. The bulk of his oeuvre consists of operas, operettas, and secular and sacred songs. Among his instrumental works are two string quartets which date from 1840 toward the end of his time in Berlin.

In the opening theme to the first movement, Allegro moderato, the influence of both Beethoven and particularly of Schubert can be heard. The main theme is lyrical with some lovely chromatic passages, while a second theme is more assertive and dramatic. The second movement, Andante, is in the form of an elegy. It begins with a funereal theme of Beethovian pathos which at times is punctuated by sudden bursts of anger. The scherzo, which follows, is entitled Baccanale monacale, and is a light, happy affair. The trio is a rustic fiddler's dance. The short airy finale, Allegro, is a whirling affair is over almost before it begins.

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Stanislav Moniuszko, String Quartet No.1 in d minor

Stanisław Moniuszko Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) was born into a family of Polish landowners in Ubiel, not far from Minsk in what was then Russian Poland, now Belarus. When he was 9, his family moved to Warsaw where he began piano lessons. Both his talent and interest justified sending him to Berlin to continue his studies. While in Berlin, he had an unexpected early success when he set three songs to the words of the Polish national poet, Adam Mickiewicz. Moniuszko was to become the foremost 19th century composer of Polish song.

The source of his melodies and rhythmic patterns can usually be found in Polish folkdances such as the polonaise, mazurka, krakowiak, kujawiak and oberek. The bulk of his oeuvre consists of operas, operettas, and secular and sacred songs. Among his instrumental works are two string quartets which date from 1840 toward the end of his time in Berlin.

The opening theme to the first movement, Allegro agitato, of String Quartet No.1 in d minor is a mildly agitated, a gracious second theme, sounding a bit like Schubert, follows. The second movement, Andantino, has a lovely, naïve melody, again reminiscent of early Schubert. Dramatic tension is added during an operatic dialogue between the first violin and cello. In the original-sounding Scherzo, the main theme is a lilting and very danceable, attractive Polish mazurka. The finale, Allegro assai, is subtitled, Un ballo compestre e sue consequenze. It begins with a traditional Polish dance, a Hajduk or Haiduk. Although the Hajduks of Polish history were rather rough and romantic characters with shaved heads and long pigtails a la Genghis Khan, what we hear at first is not the rustic revelry of rude mercenary brigands but rather a kind of formal French musette. The musette effect comes from the bagpipe drone in the viola and cello. The rousing middle section is more in keeping with the title. The main theme then returns, but this time in a foot-stomping, thigh-slapping rendition.

This quartet's melodies are fresh and attractive. It would make an ideal work for professional groups requiring a shorter work as a substitute for Mozart or Haydn, something fresh-sounding with a Polish flavor. Amateurs will certainly enjoy playing it.

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Franz Krommer, Flute Quartet No.6 in F Major, Op.89

Krommer’s Flute Quartet No.6 in F Major, Op.89 dates from 1818. It is one of the ironies of history that during his life time, Krommer's string quartets were considered as fine as Haydn's and his string quintets were ranked alongside Mozart's. But since his death, it is primarily his music for winds or winds and strings that gets played. That Krommer, an excellent violinist, knew how to write for winds is evidenced by the fact that he wrote a great deal of tuneful, popular chamber music for wind instruments. For example, he has eleven flute quintets to his credit. The fact that all of these quintets are for flute, one violin, 2 violas and cello is an indication that Krommer viewed these works essentially the same as his string quintets for 2 violins, 2 violas and cello with the flute taking the role of the first violin. Typically, other composers, especially from mid 18th century on, wrote such works for flute, 2 violins, viola and cello with the flute given more or less a solo role. Not Krommer. He integrates the flute into the ensemble just as if it were the first violin, and in fact, the work could be played by a standard string quartet if desired. But the point is that the writing for all of the voices is exceptionally good, much better than one typically finds in such works.

The quartet opens with a charming and genial Moderato brimming with appealing melodies and excitement. A lovely, typical Viennese Menuetto allegretto with trio is placed second. Next comes a lovely Andante con moto, The finale, a jolly Alla polacca, brings this fine work to a close.

Franz Krommer (1759-1831) was born in town of Kamnitz then part of the Habsburg Austrian Empire (today Kamenice in the Czech Republic) A violinist of the first rank, he moved to Vienna in the 1780's and became was one of its most successful composers by the turn of the 18th Century. According to several contemporary sources he was regarded with Haydn as the leading composer of string quartets and as a serious rival of Beethoven. Such was the universal high regard in which he was held that he was appointed Court Composer (Hofmusiker) to the Emperor, Franz I, an enthusiastic quartet player. He was the last composer to hold this august title and one of his duties was accompanying the Emperor on his various campaigns so that he could relax in the evenings playing quartets.

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Giuseppe Buonamici, String Quartet in G Major

Giuseppe Buonamici “Giuseppe Buonamici's String Quartet from the first measure to the last is a joy to play. It unites melodic invention with clarity of form and beauty of tone. It appeared in 1902 and was dedicated to his friend Joseph Joachim. The first movement, Allegro, could serve as a an excellent prototype of how to build a movement with clarity. The Adagio which follows is full of fine harmonic episodes. A fresh and piquant Scherzo, Allegro molto, with trio comes next. A substantial Adagio introduction leads to the finale, Allegro, with its magnificent main theme. The quartet is not difficult to play and can be recommended to and especially deserves the attention of amateur players.”

—The well known chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.

Giuseppe Buonamici (1846-1914) was born in the Italian city of Florence. After studying piano locally, he attended the Royal Bavarian Conservatory in Munich where he continued his piano studies with Hans von Bülow and studied composition with Joseph Rheinberger. He then pursued a career as a teacher and composer, eventually becoming a professor of piano at the Instituto Musicale in Florence. While the quartet was not published until 1902, there is considerable evidence which dates it to Buonamici's time in Munich, more specifically 1870.

This quartet has been called a treasure of the quartet repertoire and enjoyed considerable popularity up until the First World War after it, like so many other fine works from the Romantic era, disappeared. It is suitable for concert and should not, as Altmann writes, be missed by amateurs.

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Rudolph Bergh, String Quartet in d minor, Op.10

Rudolph Bergh "Bergh's Op.10 String Quartet in d minor which appeared in 1903 is a noteworthy work, written in true quartet style, cleverly put together. The first movement begins with a short Adagio introduction which leads to an Allegro energico which has for its main subject an acerbic and foreboding melody played over an insistent pulsating rhythm, but there is also a charming intermezzo interlude. The middle movement is an updated Mendelssohnian Scherzo. Although there is no slow movement, the finale has for its theme a slow, religious Andante. It is followed by 24 excellently contrasting variations, the last one being a superb fugue.The work presents no great technical problems for performance."

—the well-known chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.

Rudolph Bergh (1859-1924) not to be confused with his famous father Rudolph Bergh a physician and zoologist, was also trained as a zoologist and worked as a professor of zoology before switching to music. He studied with Heinrich von Herzogenberg in Berlin and later became a professor at the Royal Danish Conservatory. He was influenced by Brahms and Carl Nielsen.

This is a powerful work exhibiting a fusion of post Brahmsian tonality with several modern tendencies. It is certainly a good candidate for the concert hall because it of its originality while at the same time presenting an attractive choice of an early modern work of no particular difficulty for amateurs.

Unavailable for more than a century, it is a pleasure to make it available again and hope that it will find a place on the stands of professionals and amateurs alike.

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Nancy Dalberg, String Quartet No.2 in g minor, Op.14

Nancy Dalberg If you are looking for an important 20th Century Scandinavian woman composer, you need look no farther than Nancy Dalberg (1881-1949). Dalberg grew up on the Danish island of Funen (Fyn) where she leaned to play the piano. Her father, a well-off industrialist, refused her wish to study at the Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen and in the end she took private composition lessons from Johan Svendsen, Fini Henriques and Carl Nielsen. She was the first Danish woman composer to write a symphony. It was premiered to critical acclaim although it was noted with surprise and perhaps a touch of condescension that Dalberg was a woman. It is a problem that is still with us today.

Of her String Quartet No.2, Op.14 in G Minor, Wilhelm Altmann, perhaps the greatest of all chamber music critics, has written:

“Nancy Dalberg published this work without giving her forename, and, had I not learned by chance that it was composed by a woman, considering also the austerity and native strength of her music, it would never have occurred to me that it was a woman speaking to us. Her mastery of the technique of composition is remarkable, and she has something definite to say."

Dating from 1922, the Quartet is in four movements. The opening Moderato—Allegro vivo begins with an ominous theme, based on a triplet figure. The music slowly builds to a climax wherein the others soon join. This is a big and passionate movement always tonal. An Allegro scherzando is very modern sounding, but quite clever. Next comes an Andante con moto e cantabile. This is truly a brilliant example of mixing episodes of wayward tonality with traditional melody. At times rising to high passion, at other times falling back, this music effortlessly helps to extend one’s range of hearing and appreciation of tonality to its outer limits. In the last movement, Allegro molto e con spirito, there is perhaps a touch of Nielsen but without the foreknowledge that he was her teacher, one might not reach this conclusion. Slowly she builds momentum toward a convincing conclusion.

This is a first rate work which deserves to be known outside of Denmark and belongs in the concert hall. A fine modern work that should also be investigated by experienced amateurs who will find it enjoyable.

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Eduard Franck, Piano Trio No.2 in E flat Major, Op.22

Eduard Franck Eduard Franck's Piano Trio No.2 in E flat Major dates from 1856 and was published in 1859. It was dedicated to his friend Ferdinand Hiller, also a virtuoso pianist, who at the time was director of the Cologne Conservatory where Franck taught and director of the Cologne Orchestra. Despite its dedication, the work is not a vehicle for the piano. To the contrary, the three instruments are all equal partners in so much as is possible in this type of work. The opening movement, Allegro moderato con espressivo, begins in a relaxed somewhat diffident fashion. After further development the music turns both lyrical and dramatic. A Schumannesque Scherzo comes next. The third movement, Andante con moto, is calm and dignified. The finale, Allegro molto, vivace, is lively and playful with touches of Mendelssohn and then a very Beethovenian middle section, which in parts almost sounds like a quote.

Eduard Franck (1817-1893) was born in Breslau, the capital of the Prussian province of Silesia. He was the fourth child of a wealthy and cultivated banker who exposed his children to the best and brightest that Germany had to offer. Frequenters to the Franck home included such luminaries as Heine, Humboldt, Heller, Mendelssohn, and Wagner. His family’s financial position allowed Franck to study with Mendelssohn as a private student in Dusseldorf and later in Leipzig. As a talented pianist, he embarked upon a dual career as a concert artist and teacher for more than four decades during the course of which he held many positions. Although he was highly regarded as both a teacher and performer, he never achieved the public recognition of his better known contemporaries such as Mendelssohn, Schumann or Liszt. As fine a pianist as the first two and perhaps even a better teacher, the fact that he failed to publish very many of his compositions until toward the end of his life, in part, explains why he was not better known. Said to be a perfectionist, he continually delayed releasing his works until they were polished to his demanding standards. Schumann, among others, thought quite highly of the few works he did publish during the first part of his life.

Unavailable for well over 100 years, we are pleased to reprint it and are grateful to Dr. Paul Feuchte and Dr. Andreas Feuchte, the composer's great grandson and great-great grandson, for supplying us with a copy of the parts.

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Reynaldo Hahn, Piano Quintet in f# minor

Reynaldo Hahn Reynaldo Hahn (1875-1947) today is primarily remembered as a composer of the operetta Ciboulette, but he did devote a fair amount attention to composing chamber music. Born in Venezuela, Hahn’s family moved to Paris when he was three. He studied at the Conservatory under Massenet who considered him a genius. Handsome and worldly, Hahn drew his friends from a much wider circle than other musicians, for example Marcel Proust and Sarah Bernhardt, and was greatly interested in the literary scene as well as the theater. Having a gifted voice and being an excellent pianist, Hahn needed no assistant for vocal concert evening. He was also a deft conductor who eventually directed the Paris Opera.

His Piano Quintet in f# minor dates from 1921. The big and highly dramatic opening movement of the three movement Quintet, Molto agiatato e con fuoco is, in a word, brilliant. How could music this attractive and exciting land in oblivion? In the moody, pensive and beautiful Andante non troppo lento, the merest whiff of Faure can occasionally be heard. Toward the end, a lovely vocal melody, briefly, like the sun pushing through heavy clouds, lightens the mood. The thematic material of finale, Allegretto grazioso is elegant and genteel and has an almost neo-rococo feel to it. The middle has a slighly more buoyant rondo and the coda slowly builds momentum to a very satisfying conclusion.

This is a superb work which we are pleased to revive, hoping it will be enjoyed by both amateurs and professionals.

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Ernst von Dohnanyi, Piano Quintet No.2 in e flat minor, Op.26

Ernst von DohnanyiPiano Quintet No.2, Op.26 in e flat minor was completed in 1914. The opening Allegro non troppo begins very softly and mysteriously. The strings, led by the first violin, present the opening theme in their lower registers over a soft, prolonged triplet piano accompaniment which almost sounds like tremolo. Tension is built slowly and one expects that there will be an emotional explosion when the piano finally takes part in the theme. But surprisingly, this does not happen. Instead, the piano is allowed to present a more elastic and powerful version of the theme. While the tension, created mainly by the soft tremolo now in the strings, is still there, it remains beneath the surface, as the piano plays a more heroic version of the theme. The second subject is more lyrical and lighter.

The second movement is marked Intermezzo, allegretto, but this marking does not really tell the full story. The very lovely, lilting opening theme, initially stated by the viola and then by the first violin, is indeed treated in the fashion of an intermezzo. It is clothed in the unmistakable aura of an elegant late Viennese waltz. What follows this, however, is quite different. This dance theme is not developed in any traditional way but rather by means of a set of five different interludes which flirt with being variations. The finale, Moderato, begins with an extraordinarily somber canon, with the cello beginning and the others following. The music is saturated with a mood of regret and resignation. The second theme, presented by the piano, although solemn, is not as pessimistic.”

— R.H.R. Silvertrust writing in The Chamber Music Journal .

Ernst von Dohnanyi (1877-1960) (Ernö Dohnányi in Hungarian) is generally regarded, after Liszt, as Hungary’s most versatile musician. He was active as a concert pianist, composer, conductor and teacher and must be considered one of the chief influences on Hungary’s musical life in the 20th century. Certainly, his chamber music is very fine, with most of it being in the masterwork category. Yet, sadly and inexplicably, it has virtually disappeared from the concert stage. Dohnanyi studied piano and composition in his native Pressburg (Bratislava) before entering the Budapest Academy. Upon graduating in the spring of 1897, Dohnanyi embarked on a dazzling career as a concert artist, often playing in chamber ensembles. Later, he also devoted considerable time to teaching and conducting.

This is an important work and certainly an adornment to any professional ensemble's repertoire. However, it presents no great technical difficulties and should not be missed by amateurs.

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Heinrich von Herzogenberg, String No.1 in A Major, Op.27 No.1

Heinrich von Herzogenberg The Austrian composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900) was often written-off as nothing more than a pale imitation of Brahms, of whom he was a great admirer. There is no denying that his music often strongly shows the influence of Brahms, however, listeners and players alike, who have revisited the music, have discovered that it is original and fresh, notwithstanding the influence of Brahms. Many compositions, especially his chamber music, are first rate and Brahms might well have wished he had written some of them. Toward the of his life, Brahms, who was not in the habit of praising other composers publicly, wrote of Herzogenberg, whom he had often harshly criticized in the past, “Herzogenberg is able to do more than any of the others."

Herzogenberg’s two string trios were written one after another and completed in 1877. They are both big works and among the few which Brahms publicly praised. No major composer (including Brahms) had, since Beethoven, published string trios. (Schubert’s remained in manuscript awaiting publication) So, it is not surprising that Beethoven was to serve as Herzogenberg’s structural model.

The opening subject to the first movement of String Trio No.1, Op.27 No.1 in A Major, Allegro, is bright, graceful and syncopated. The second theme, is equally cheerful, but somewhat broader and is sounds especially well in the viola and cello.

The Andante which follows begins with a beautiful folk melody, slow and lyrical, while the middle section is quicker and somewhat turbulent.

Next comes an Allegretto, which for its main theme has a kind of “Shepherd’s Lament” which quickly morphs into a rustic peasant’s dance.

The mood of the finale, Allegro, is similar to that of the 1st movement, mostly bright and graceful. Toward the end, the writing becomes almost orchestral which is quite an accomplishment for just three voices.

It is truly a shame that it is not better known.

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Sergei Taneyev, String Trio in E flat Major, Op.31

Sergei Taneyev Sergei Taneyev's String Trio in E flat Major dates from 1911. It was originally composed for Violin, Viola and Tenor Viola, an instrument pitched an octave lower than the violin, deeper than a viola but higher than a cello. From time to time, various composers would write a work which included the Tenor Viola, first built in 1848, but the instrument never caught on and these works were consigned to oblivion until and unless a cello part was created. In the case of this trio, a cello part was created in 1960 by Professor A. Ginzberg of Gnesin Academy of Music in Moscow. The well-known chamber music expert, Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Chamber Music Handbook, describes the trio as follows:

“In the first movement, Allegro con brio, the composer's excellent compositional technique is already on display, particularly in the development of the appealing themes. The delightful Scherzino which follows is full of humor and high spirits and is sure to please. The slow movement, Adagio espressivo, is a warm and romantic lyrical song. The jolly finale, a Presto, is a fleet-footed affair that is extraordinarily effective and so written as to make it hard to believe that only three instruments are playing."

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 Gliere, 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.

This is a work every trio party will want to add to their library and repertoire, be they professional or amateur.

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