Alexis de Castillon

Alexis de Castillon (1838-1873)

Nationality: French
Born: December 13, 1838, Chartres Died: March 5, 1873, Paris (age 34)

Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 1

(for 2 violins, viola, cello and piano)
15:55 I. Allegro ben moderato
7:05 II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
14:45 III. Adagio et Final. Molto maestoso - Allegro molto
Duration: 38 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1863-1864 (age 24-26)
Published: 1865 (age 26-27)
Dedication: Madame la Marquise d'Angosse
1 recording, 3 videos
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Laurent Martin, Quatuor Satie
I. Allegro ben moderato
Laurent Martin, Quatuor Satie
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
Laurent Martin, Quatuor Satie
III. Adagio et Final. Molto maestoso - Allegro molto
From Edition Silvertrust

Alexis de CastillonAlexis de Castillon (1838-1873) was born in the French city of Chartres. As a member of the nobility his parents initially expected him to have a military career, which for a time he pursued, joining the imperial cavalry. However, his love of music, which came from the piano lessons he had received as a boy, led him to enter the Paris Conservatoire where he ultimately studied with César Franck. His health, always of a fragile nature, was not helped by his military service in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. His health deteriorated and he never really recovered. He composed several chamber works which his contemporaries considered to be first rate. Vincent d’Indy called him one of the best chamber music composers of his time.

Castillon’s Piano Quintet dates from 1863. There were few piano quintets which had been written that could serve as his model and Robert Schumann’s was the best known. And it is Schumann’s Op.44 quintet which served as Castillon’s model not only for that reason but also because he was drawn to Schumann’s music. Today critics recognize that this work serves as a milestone in French piano quintet music as the most important such work between Saint-Saens’ early Op.14 of 1855 and Cesar Franck’s great work of 1880. Its four movements are lavishly constructed and are full of extravagant and unusual ideas. For one thing, it is often concertante in character pitting the piano against the unison writing in the strings.

The powerful and lyrical opening theme to the first movement, Allegro ben moderato, is so magnificent that it absorbs most of the energy of the movement, limiting the second theme to a rather smaller role than is normal. The somewhat belligerent theme of the Scherzo which follows is characterized by its syncopation. The final two movements are played attacca and form an organic whole because the main theme of the Adagio molto maestoso becomes an important motif in the finale. Despite using Schumann’s quintet as a model, this opulent work helped to establish the French school of writing and shows the young composer’s mastery of form by his ability to bind the entire work through the early use of a cyclic format.

Long out of print, this work is not only historically important but stands on its own based on the merits of its original ideas.

© Edition Silvertrust. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Related Composers

1900 WWI César Franck (1822-1890) Édouard Lalo (1823-1892) Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) Alexis de Castillon (1838-1873) Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) Vincent d'Indy (1851-1931)
César Franck (1822-1890)
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Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
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