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List: Edition Silvertrust
Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Nationality: German
Born: June 11, 1864, Munich Died: September 8, 1949, Garmisch-Partenkirchen (age 85)

Piano Quartet in c minor, Op. 13, TrV 137

(for violin, viola, cello and piano)
12:44 I. Allegro
7:35 II. Scherzo. Presto
8:03 III. Andante
9:58 IV. Vivace
Duration: 39 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1883-1884 (age 18-20)
Published: 1886 (age 21-22)
5 recordings, 20 videos
autoplay
12:00
Ames Piano Quartet
I. Allegro
7:27
Ames Piano Quartet
II. Scherzo. Presto
8:57
Ames Piano Quartet
III. Andante
10:15
Ames Piano Quartet
IV. Vivace
14:32
CMS Lincoln Center
I. Allegro
7:24
CMS Lincoln Center
II. Scherzo. Presto
8:13
CMS Lincoln Center
III. Andante
11:02
CMS Lincoln Center
IV. Vivace
10:25
Vienna Philharmonia Quintet
I. Allegro
7:40
Vienna Philharmonia Quintet
II. Scherzo. Presto
7:30
Vienna Philharmonia Quintet
III. Andante
9:28
Vienna Philharmonia Quintet
IV. Vivace
11:25
Sonoro Festival
I. Allegro
6:33
Sonoro Festival
II. Scherzo. Presto
8:02
Sonoro Festival
III. Andante
10:44
Sonoro Festival
IV. Vivace
14:19
Gothoni, et. al.
I. Allegro
7:04
Gothoni, et. al.
II. Scherzo. Presto
8:34
Gothoni, et. al.
III. Andante
10:03
Gothoni, et. al.
IV. Vivace
From Kai Christiansen

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 13, (1883-1884)

Richard StraussWhen surveying the music of such important Romantic composers as Wagner, Liszt, Mahler and Strauss, one notices a conspicuous absence of chamber music. The "New German School" instigated by Wagner and Liszt and eventually embraced by Hans von Bülow and a mature Strauss as music of the future sought "new bottles for new wine" in the form of all-encompassing musical drama or the symphonic tone poem. It was largely left to "conservatives" like Brahms to maintain the classical traditions represented by the four-movement symphony and chamber music in the form of string and piano quartets. Wagner composed no chamber music, Liszt a handful of minor works, and Mahler but one movement for piano quartet. But a young Richard Strauss proved to be an exception. Though his mature output is dominated by his masterful, celebrated tone poems as well as cutting-edge operas, Strauss's first blush as an emerging composer sprang precisely from his discovery of Brahms. In 1883 at the age of 19, Strauss moved to Berlin and came to know the symphonies and chamber music of Brahms who was at his peak and just entering his final decade as a commanding composer. Strauss would attend the premiere of Brahms's 4th Symphony in 1885 and would likely have studied his three epic piano quartets, the last completed by Brahms a good decade earlier. In a Brahmsian thrall, Strauss composed his own piano quartet throughout most of 1884, completing the score on New Year's Day, 1885 at the age of 20. While Strauss had already composed some youthful piano trios, a fine string quartet, a cello sonata and within a few more years, a lovely violin sonata, the piano quartet of 1885 stands boldly as his greatest chamber music.

The Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 13 is a large work, a full-scale four-movement exemplar of the mid to late Romantic piano quartets by the likes of Schumann and Brahms. Musicologist Basil Smallman calls the quartet "opulent" suggesting that is "exudes the confidence of a young giant, reveling in his technical expertise and creative vigor." The first movement Allegro traverses a large dramatic arc in the most classical sonata form and the influence of Brahms is apparent throughout. Particularly stunning is Strauss's handling of "thematic variation", a technique for which both Brahms and the mature Strauss are famous. The quiet and deceptively simple motif that begins the movement will be heard in several different guises, each a significant transformation of tempo, key, timbre and mood. A lively but darkly tinged Scherzo follows, by turns sparkling and muscular with obvious evocations of Brahms in the spiky rhythms and the lyrical trio. The Scherzo reprise is not a mechanical repeat but thorough composed anew with fresh embellishments, development and a coda. The slow movement is rich and sweet occasionally waxing quite Romantic with florid melodic strains as one might hear from Rachmaninoff or Tchaikovsky subsumed in an otherwise quite delicate, charmed atmosphere. A surging finale in rondo form features a rather serious refrain amidst vivid contrasts and even a dash of fugato reminding many commentators of Schumann more than Brahms and drawing the quartet to a powerful close in a grand, almost symphonic style.

The first performance, arranged by Bülow, occurred in Weimar in December of 1885 by members of the Halír Quartet with Strauss playing the piano part. It was repeated at Meiningen, where Strauss was working as a court conductor leading to his dedication of the quartet to his employer, the Grand Duke, 'in gratitude'. The quartet would also take the prize given by the Berlin Tonkünstler Verein for a piano quartet, the winner of 24 submissions.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.

From Edition Silvertrust

Richard StraussRichard Strauss (1864-1949), of course, needs no introduction. His orchestral compositions and operas have made him one of the best known composers of the late 19th and 20th century. While Strauss did not, in later life, devote much time to chamber music, in his earlier years he tried his hands at several different types of chamber works composing a string quartet, two piano trios, a piano quartet and several instrumental sonatas.

During his early years, Strauss took Schumann and Mendelssohn as his models, but in the case of the Piano Quartet, there is also evidence that Brahms was influential. The Piano Quartet, which must count as one of Strauss' most important works from this period, was completed in 1885 and is in four movements. The massive opening Allegro begins in turbulent fashion virtually exploding out of the gate but the second theme is both more lyrical and reflective. It is followed by a light, playful Scherzo, presto, which is from time to time interrupted by powerful rhythmic bursts. The romantic and lyrical trio section presents a stark contrast. A quiet, somewhat reflective Andante serves as the slow movement. It creates an "after the party" mood, soft and gentle although as the movement develops it reaches several very romantic climaxes. The turbulence we experienced in the opening movement returns in the finale, Vivace. But again a sweet, highly romantic and very lyrical second theme changes the mood altogether.

This is another welcome addition to the piano quartet literature, a fully formed and mature work which not only deserves concert performance but also should be of interest to amateur players.

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


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