Piano Quintet, Op.28
Georgy Catoire's Piano Quintet was his penultimate chamber music work. Composed in 1914, Like his other chamber music works, it is quite individualistic and original sounding.
Catoire (1861-1926) is generally considered the father of Russian modernism. He was born in Moscow to a French noble family which had emigrated to Russia in the early 19th century. Although fascinated by music, he studied mathematics and science at the University of Moscow, graduating in 1884. After graduation, however, he decided to devote himself to music. His early compositions showed the influence of Tchaikovsky who described Catoire as talented but in need of serious training. Eventually Catoire was to study composition with Rimsky-Korsakov, Lyadov, Arensky and Taneyev. In 1916, he was appointed Professor of Composition at the Moscow Conservatory, a position he held for the rest of his life. Catoire wrote several treatises on music theory, which became the foundation for the teaching of music theory in Russia. His composition style was a synthesis Russian, German and French influences--Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Cesar Franck, Debussy and Richard Wagner were the chief influences. From them, Catoire developed a highly personal and original idiom. His championing of Wagner is partially responsible for the fact that his works are relatively unknown today. Rimsky-Korsakov's circle disliked Wagner's music intensely and did little to promote it. This resulted in its being barely known in Russia. They also shunned Catoire’s music because he was a Wagnerite.
The opening movement, Allegro moderato, begins with a theme which briefly recalls Tchaikovsky's piano trio. It is quite romantic and developed in a dramatic fashion. The second theme is more delicate and introspective. The second movement, Andante, begins in a somewhat mystical vein. Quiet, the music floats in a gauze-like dream world. The opening to the finale, Allegro con spirito e capriccioso, begins with musical images of a fairyland complete with elves dancing and an aura of magic. But as the movement progresses, many dramatic episodes bubble forth.
There is nothing like this work in the Piano Quintet literature and it certainly belongs on the concert stage. But at the same time, this is one of Catoire's most approachable works and should not be missed by amateurs. It has been unavailable for a very long time and we are proud to bring it back