Piano Quartet No.1 in A Major, Op.33
Richard Franck (1858-1938) was the son of the composer, concert pianist and teacher Eduard Franck (whose music we also publish). Born in Cologne, where his father was then teaching, Richard showed an early talent for the piano. When it became clear he was going to pursue a career in music, Eduard, who had studied with Mendelssohn, saw to it that he received the best training available. Richard was sent to the prestigious Leipzig Conservatory to study with Carl Reinecke and Salomon Jadassohn, both of whom were among the leading composers and teachers of their day. After finishing his studies, Richard enjoyed a long career as a teacher, composer, and pianist, during the course of which he held several positions in Germany and Switzerland.
Although he was a fine performer, and a respected teacher and composer, Richard Franck never achieved real prominence. It was simply a fact of life, which befalls a many fine musician, and not really a reflection on him as either a teacher, performer or composer. Those critics, who were familiar with his compositions and his piano playing, regularly lavished praised upon them. For example, Otto Dorn, a critic for the prestigious musical periodical Die Musik called Franck's First Piano Quartet a, "...a noble and finely written farewell to Romanticism."
Franck's Piano Quartet No.1 was composed in 1901. The opening Allegro, has for its main theme a lovely, lyrical melody in the strings that slowly builds in excitement and forward motion. The second theme is a light-spirited march. The Adagio which follows begins with a very romantic theme. In the middle is a fine fugue (our sound-bite begins here) in which the theme is further developed before returning. The third movement, Allegretto, is unusual in that it is in four sections. The main section is slower and rather sweet, but the trio section, which is actually the scherzo is much faster and rather exciting. (our sound-bite is of the trio) The full-blooded and energetic main theme of the finale, Allegro, immediately sets the mood for what follows.
With its lovely melodies and exciting musical episodes, audiences and players alike will find this piano quartet a very appealing work. Long out of print, our edition is the first in over a century.