Heinrich von Herzogenberg
Piano Quartet No.2 in B flat Major, Op.95
The Austrian composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900) has sometimes been attacked as nothing more than a pale imitation of Brahms, of whom he was a great admirer. There is no denying that his music often shows the influence of Brahms, however, listeners and players alike have discovered that it is original and fresh, notwithstanding the influence of Brahms. Most of his chamber is first rate and Brahms might well have wished he had written some of it. Toward the of his life, Brahms, who was not in the habit of praising other composers publicly, wrote of Herzogenberg, whom he had often harshly criticized in the past, “Herzogenberg is able to do more than any of the others."
"A composer of great refinement. He in his way was an original thinker and a musician of genuine emotional and poetic qualities. His chamber compositions in particular stand out among his hundred or more published works, for they are not only masterly from the technical point of view, but interesting on the intellectual side. " —So wrote, Wilhelm Altmann, one of the most respected chamber music critics of the 20th century.
Herzogenberg’s Second Piano Quartet, his last chamber music work, was begun in 1895 and finished a few months before Brahms’ death in 1897. Herzogenberg, who knew that Brahms was seriously ill, dedicated the work to him and this certainly explains the almost overt influence of Brahms in this music. It was undoubtedly intended as a tribute to his erstwhile and unresponsive friend. For many years prior, Herzogenberg has studiously gone his own way and though he admired Brahms greatly, had long since stopped imitating him. The opening Allegro begins with a series of sharp chords which are subsequently developed and serve as the core material of the entire movement. The superb second movement, a big, emotive Adagio, is titled “Notturno” and the music, though very romantic is also quite dream-like. A powerful and thrusting Scherzo follows. Its middle section surprises with music which could very well be styled a Shepherd’s Idyll. The rousing finale, Allegro vivace, is tinged with Hungarian melody but also reprises the three main themes of the prior movements and melds them into a rousing conclusion.
Long out of print, we have taken the only edition and added rehearsal numbers. This is an important late romantic piano quartet which will certainly give pleasure to professionals and amateurs alike.