Piano Quartet No.2 in D Major, Op.11 "Spanish"
Louise Heritte-Viardot (1841-1918) was born in Paris into a musical family. Both her mother Pauline Viardot (née Garcia) and her aunt Maria Malibran were world famous vocalists. She, too, became a singer, having been taught by her mother. However her health prevented her from prevented her from having the same type of career that her mother had. While she continued to sing on occasion, she mostly devoted herself to composing and teaching. Whereas her mother and aunt also composed, but only French art songs with piano accompaniment, Louise wrote in virtually every genre. Among her works are some four string quartets, three piano quartets, two piano trios and several instrumental sonatas.
Unfortunately, much of her oeuvre is now lost. Of her chamber music, only the three piano quartets have survived. The Piano Quartet No.2 dates from 1883. It enjoyed a successful premiere and was one of the few works from the more than 300 she wrote which was published in her lifetime. Since each of its movements bears a Spanish subtitle, it may be considered program music, but in the very best sense of the word. It was quickly given the subtitle "The Spanish" The opening movement, Allegretto, is a Paseo, a classical Spanish dance characterized by a walking step. This sparkling music is brisk but not overly fast. This is followed by an Andantino entitled Caña. It is a a sad song first given out by the viola and then taken up by the violin as the cello and piano provide a strumming background. A more lively Allegretto con moto follows. The title, Serenada, gives away the mood of the music, a romantic and lovely melody. The finale, Allegro giocoso, entitled Divertimiento, is a kind of upbeat traveling music which takes the listener on exciting, bumptious tour.
This is a great audience piece and would surely please in the concert hall. Amateurs will greatly enjoy it. The part-writing is very fine and highly effective and the ideas are perfectly suited for its purpose.