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Chamber Music

Tip of the Iceberg

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Tudor Musique oblige 7083

Franz Vincenz Krommer
(1759-1831)

String Quartet in D Major, Op. 18 #1
String Quartet in A Major, Op. 18 #2
String Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 18 #3

Quartetto dì Milano
Tudor Musique oblige 7083 77:26

In his chamber music, Krommer followed the style of Franz Josph Haydn and Wolfgang Mozart, and yet his modes of expression extend from the galant style of the earlier 18th century to Romanticism. These relatively early quartets, published in 1800, show Krommer at the height of his Classicism. In all, Krommer wrote more than 75 string quartets, of which these are numbers 22 through 24.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus ]

Romantic Belgian Chamber Music

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Koch-Schwann Musique en Wallonie MEW0423

François-Joseph Fétis
(1784-1871)

String Quintet #1 in A minor (1859) 1
Grand Sextet (1818) 2,3
Sonata #1 for Piano 4-Hands in A Major 2
Sonata #2 for Piano 4-Hands in D Major 2
Sonata #3 for Piano 4-Hands in G Major 2

1 Michel Collin & André Martin, violins
1 Guy Decleire & Louis Logie, viola
1 Edmond Baert, cello
2 Dominique Cornil & Olivier Gardon, piano 4-hands
3 Veronique Bogaerts & François Chamberlan, violins
3 Paul de Clerck, viola
3 Hans Mannes, cello
Koch-Schwann Musique en Wallonie MEW0423 77:52

Born into a Belgian family of instrument makers and musicians, Fétis became perhaps the most important music historian and musicologist of the 19th century, as well as an influential critic. Though his writings were encyclopedic, his compositional output was relatively sparse.

His chamber music consists of three string quartets, three string quintets, the sextet included here (scored for the unusual combination of piano 4-hands, 2 violins, viola & cello) and a few other pieces, including these 4-hand piano sonatas from 1819. All of the works are finely crafted, and often quite beautiful. The performances are committed and first rate. Hard to find, but worth the trouble.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Brilliant Norwegian Symphonies

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Sterling SACD CDS1084-2

Eyvind Alnæs
(1872-1932)

Symphony #1 in C Minor, Op. 7 (1897)
Symphony #2 in D Major, Op. 32 (1923)

Latvian National Symphony Orchestra/Terje Mikkelsen
Sterling SACD CDS1084-2 78:14

As was usual during most of the nineteenth century, many Scandinavian and Finnish composers trained in Leipzig, and thus were influenced by such teachers as Carl Reinecke. The majority of the Norwegian Alnæs's output was vocal music, but also includes a piano concerto, which has been recorded by Hyperion (CDA67555), and a set of orchestral variations.

These two symphonies show their German influences but there are also touches of Edvard Grieg, and the final movement of the second is very Norwegian indeed. For those interested, the disc is a hybrid, multi-channel SACD.

[ Available on Multichannel Hybrid SACD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

German Romanticism

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Brilliant Classics 93997

Friedrich Gernsheim
(1839-1916)

Piano Quartet #3 in F Major, Op. 47 (1883)
Piano Quartet #1 in E Flat Major, Op. 6 (1859-64)

Andreas Kirpal, piano
Members of the Diogenes Quartet
Brilliant Classics 93997 67:00

These two immediately attractive works are listed as first recordings, and are in the tradition of German Romanticism. The first, especially in its scherzo, evokes Felix Mendelssohn. The third, like Gernsheim's symphonies, is strongly influenced by the music of his friend Johannes Brahms. As this costs less than a cup of coffee and a sandwich, there's every reason to add it to your collection.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Quartets from St. Petersburg

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Profil PH06032

Anton Ferdinand Tietz
(1742-1810)

String Quartet #4 in C minor, Op. 1 #4 (1781)
String Quartet #5 in D minor, Op. 1 #5 (1781)
String Quartet #7 in G Major (1802)
String Quartet #9 in A minor (1802)

Hoffmeister Quartet
Profil PH06032 60:46

This German composer, born in Nuremberg, spent much of his professional life at the imperial court in St. Petersburg. He was the favorite musician of Catherine The Great, and richly rewarded for his service.

He composed at least 15 string quartets in three sets: six written before 1798 and published in Paris as his Op. 1, a set of three finished about 1802, and a final set of six completed in his final years. This first volume gives a sampling of two each from the first two sets. These are are relatively large-scale, Viennese Classical quartets in the style of the mature string quartets of Wolfgang Mozart and Franz Joseph Haydn.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan ]

[ Volume II available on Profil PH09046 76:02 - Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan ]

French Chamber Music for Winds

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K.617 160

Théodore Gouvy
(1819-1898)

Septet (1887)
Octet, Op. 71 (1882)
Petite Suite Gauloise, Op. 90 (1888)

Les Solistes de Prades/Michel Lethiec
K.617 K617160 56:02

These three works are for various combinations of wind instruments. They display considerable charm and wit, and are recorded with unusual spaciousness. Anyone who has succumbed to the wind quintets of Danzi or Krommer will find much to enjoy.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

English Works for Piano & Strings

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Dutton Epoch CDLX7220

Edward Elgar
(1857-1934)

Three Movements for Piano Trio

Adela Maddison
(1866-1929)

Piano Quintet (1916)

Frank Bridge
(1979-1941)

Piano Quartet in C Minor (1902)

The Fibonacci Sequence
Dutton Epoch CDLX7220 79:26

All of these are first recordings. Two of the movements by Elgar – Rosemary and Empire March – will be familiar to those who know his smaller pieces. The realization by Paul Rooke was done to celebrate his 150th anniversary in 2007. Adela Maddison, who spent some years living in France – where she knew a number of well-known composers, especially Gabriel Fauré – and later in Germany, was better known for her songs and opera. The piano quintet was written on her return to England and reflects the events of the time. The music of Frank Bridge, for many years known principally as Britten's teacher, has recently been recorded more frequently. His piano quartet, suppressed for many years, shows the influence of Brahms, Fauré and Ravel.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Russian String Trios

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Hyperion CDA67573

Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev
(1856-1915)

String Trio in E Flat Major, Op. 31 (1910-11)
String Trio in B Minor (1913)
String Trio in D Major (1879-80)

Leopold String Trio
Hyperion CDA67573 67:29

Taneyev was initially a very conservative composer with little time for the efforts of other composers working in Russia at the time, thus the D Major trio sounds like Haydn. The other two, written in the later part of his career, show clear evidence of his having been more accepting of the work of his contemporaries. The Leopold String Trio is Isabelle Van Keulen (violin), Lawrence Power (viola), and Kate Gould (cello).

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Entartete Musik

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Capriccio 10539

Erwin Schulhoff
(1894-1942)

String Quartet in G Major, Op. 25 (1918) 1
Sonata for Solo Violin (1927) 2
Duo for Violin and Cello (1925) 3
String Sextet (1924) 4

1,2,4 Conrad Muck, violin
1,3,4 Gerhard Süssmuth, violin
1,4 Friedemann Weigle, viola
1,3,4 Hans-Jaokob Eschenburg, cello
4 Rainer Johannes Kimstedt, viola
4 Michael Sanderling, cello
Petersen Quartet
Capriccio 10539 76:45

The Czech composer Schulhoff's compositions show a variety of styles, sometimes within the one work. His early influences were Dvořák, Brahms and Schumann, evident in the string quartet. Later he turned to the influences of the Second Viennese School, to folk elements and jazz. He tried to emigrate to flee the developing World War II but was arrested, and succumbed to tuberculosis in a German concentration camp. His other music for string quartet has been recorded by the Petersen Quartet on another Capriccio CD.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Not That Franck

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Audite 97.487

Richard Franck
(1858-1938)

Piano Trio in B Minor, Op. 20 (1893)
Piano Trio in E Flat Major, Op. 32 (1900)

Christoph Schickedanz, violin
Thomas Blees, cello
Bernhard Fograscher, piano
Audite 97.487 62:57

Franck is one of a German musical family which boasts several interesting composers, including his father, Eduard. Despite their late nineteenth-century dates, these trios are strongly influenced by Schumann.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]
Trumpet