Heinrich von Herzogenberg
Piano Quintet in C Major, Op.17
Writing of Herzogenberg’s Piano Quintet in his book The Piano in Chamber Ensembles, Professor Maurice Hinson states that the work is:
“Masterly written from the technical viewpoint and also intellectually interesting. It skillfully uses the tone color of all the instruments and is worth reviving.”
Dating from 1876, the Quintet is in four generous movements. The big opening Allegro moderato un poco maestoso begins with a short piano introduction. The strings enter with a gentle, genial melody but slowly affairs build to a triumphant march-like climax. From their several new and appealing melodies are introduced reappearing at various intervals. The second movement, Adagio, has for its main theme a simple but moving melody and the mood is altogether quieter. The second theme, a canon between the viola and first violin, is in the minor and showcases the composer’s contrapuntal skills. The third movement, a heavy accented and thrusting Allegro, is a kind of energetic scherzo. The finale, Presto, is dominated by its bouncy, dance-like main theme, a kind of traveling music.
The Austrian composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900) was born in the Austrian city of Graz. He studied composition at the conservatory of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna with Otto Dessoff. Although initial attracted to Wagner and the New German School of Liszt, by the time he composed this Quintet, he had distanced himself from them. Later, it was Brahms who often influenced his thinking but despite this, most of his music is nonetheless original and fresh as demonstrated by this piece.As the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm has written, “Herzogenberg’s chamber music is unquestionably first rate and some of it made Brahms envious.
Here is a first rate, original sounding, piano quintet, certainly deserving concert hall performance where it is sure to be appreciated but should not be missed by amateur ensembles either. We have reprinted the original edition but have added rehearsal letters which the original lacked.