Piano Quartet No.1 in D Major, Op.16
Georges Enescu (1881-1955) was a child prodigy on the violin and also the piano. He entered the Vienna Conservatory at age seven graduating at age 13. The next year he continued his studies at the Paris Conservatory. He became a violin virtuoso and famous teacher of the violin, but also devoted himself to composition which he studied with Massenet and Faure. He is remembered today mostly for his two Romanian Rhapsodies for Orchestra, but he wrote in virtually every genre and produced a considerable amount of fine chamber music.
Enescu’s First Piano Quartet was begun in 1900 but was not finished until 1909. It is written on an epic scale and if not the longest, certainly one of the longest ever written. Like his earlier Octet from 1906, one might say that the music, at several points bursts the bounds of chamber music and enters the realm of the orchestral. That is a very forward looking work can be appreciated by the fact that decades later, scholars and critics came to compare it to and find similarities with the late chamber music of Gabriel Fauré, which was composed a decade after Enescu had completed this work. In the broader sense, the music follows a traditional pattern but the various tonal and rhythmic effects, always interesting, might be considered pioneering if not revolutionary. Very original in conception, there was nothing like it being contemporaneously written.
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