Louise Héritte-Viardot

Louise Héritte-Viardot (1841-1918)

Nationality: French
Born: December 14, 1841, Paris Died: January 17, 1918, Heidelberg (age 76)

Piano Quartet in d minor

(for violin, viola, cello and piano)
I. Allegro
II. Andante (Quasi adagio)
III. Scherzo. Con moto
IV. Rondo. Allegro con brio
Composed: 1877 (age 35-36)
Published: 1878 (age 36-37)
From Edition Silvertrust

Louise Heritte-Viardot's Piano Quartet in d minor is without opus number. It is actually her first, composed in 1877 and published the following year. It was reviewed with acclaim at its premiere by the influential French music magazine Le Ménestrel and then inexplicably disappeared. A copy lay .in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris gathering dust until it was rediscovered in 1980. The first movement, Allegro, is full of dramatic and powerful themes. The opening measures set the mood of Beethovian seriousness. The exquisite Andante which follows is like three mini sonatas as each instrument is given long solos with the piano before all join together. Next comes a Mendelssohnian dancing Scherzo, lively and light-footed. The finale, a spectacular Rondo, flies off the starting block and races along a breathless pace topping off a fine work.

Louise Heritte-Viardot (1841-1918) was born in Paris into a musical family. Both her mother Pauline Viardot (née Garcia) and her aunt Maria Malibran were world famous vocalists. She, too, became a singer, having been taught by her mother. However her health prevented her from prevented her from having the same type of career that her mother had. While she continued to sing on occasion, she mostly devoted herself to composing and teaching. Whereas her mother and aunt also composed, but only French art songs with piano accompaniment, Louise wrote in virtually every genre. Among her works are some four string quartets, three piano quartets, two piano trios and several instrumental sonatas. Unfortunately, much of her oeuvre is now lost. Of her chamber music, only the three piano quartets have survived.

After many years of searching, we finally found a copy of the one and only edition, the first from 1877, of this is a first rate work. It is an excellent choice for a concert program which is sure to wow audiences. And it is well within the scope of amateurs who should not miss the chance to play it. The part-writing is very fine and highly effective and the ideas are perfectly suited for its purpose.

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