Although Gustav Jenner was a relatively obscure name in European musical circles of the late 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, he had the extreme good fortune to be championed by Brahms. Born in Germany in 1865 (the same year as Glazunov, Nielsen and Sibelius), he spent his school years in Mannheim and Kiel. He learnt to play the piano at a young age but a letter from Brahms in January 1888 was the real turning point in his life. A month later, Jenner was in Vienna on a scholarship with the support of benevolent patrons. It was through the latter's intervention that he became the only compositional pupil ever accepted by Brahms.
Jenner remained in Vienna until 1895, when again with Brahms' support, he obtained a permanent position at Marburg University. Greatly honoured, he remained there till the end of his life in 1920. Although his music is not a vivid example of originality, it is nonetheless well crafted, melodious and highly romantic.
The two chamber works on this disc reveal Jenner as a fastidious musician who was able to write pieces full of joy and fun wrapped up in a package of delicately-weaved musical patterns. Both works date from the late 1890's and although Brahms' influence is manifested repeatedly, they still possess a certain charm that is infectiously appealing. The Trio in E Flat with its prominent part for the horn, is particularly haunting and is a strong reminder of Brahms' Op. 40.
The three young soloists give fresh and breezy interpretations and they certainly do Jenner's cause a wealth of good. At nearly 50 minutes, this CD is definitely on the lean side but this slight blip should not deter all those who wish to investigate a rare but very attractive composer.
Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech