Piano Quartet in E flat Major, Op.18
August Bungert (1845-1915) was born in the German town of Mühlheim. He studied at the Cologne and Paris conservatories, after which he served as a music director in a small German resort town for a brief period before moving to Berlin and studying composition with Friedrich Kiel. Although primarily a composer of opera, Bungert’s Piano Quartet won the 1877 Florentine Quartet prize. The judges of the competition which selected this work were none other than Johannes Brahms and Robert Volkmann.
The Piano Quartet was very popular for many years, especially during the last part of the 19th century when piano quartets were more often performed in concert than they are today. The opening movement, Con brio, is distinguished by two fine themes, the first quite captivating, the second more vigorous. The second movement, Adagio con moto and subtitled Volkston (a folk tune), is highly expressive. A gloomy middle section provides a superb contrast. The third movement, Un poco agitato, is pervaded by a thunder-charged atmosphere which gives way to a heroic middle section. The finale, Allegro giocoso, is melodious and full of gaiety.
Wilhelm Altmann, the famous chamber music critic, calls it a work which, on account of the folksong character of its melodies, will be a great source of enjoyment for professionals and amateurs alike. Long out of print, we are pleased to make this fine work available again.