Piano Quartet in E flat Major, Op.44
Wilhelm Hill (1838-1902) was born in the German city of Fulda. He studied piano and violin locally before moving to Frankfurt where he studied with Heinrich Henkel and Johann Christian Haupff. Except for a few short intervals, Hill remained in Frankfurt for the rest of his life where he gained a reputation both as a piano teacher and composer. He knew and was on friendly terms with many of the important composers of his day including Brahms, Anton Rubinstein and Louis Spohr. Spohr's high praise of Hill's first piano trio helped to make him better known in chamber music circles around Frankfurt. He wrote in most genres and, as far as chamber music goes, composed two piano trios, a string quartet, several instrumental sonatas and this piano quartet.
The Piano Quartet in E flat Major, Op.44 was completed in 1879 and published and premiered the same year. It enjoyed considerable success and was performed throughout Germany and even in America where in 1881 it was brought by one of Germany's leading chamber music ensembles, the Heine Quartet, and widely performed in concert.
The respected chamber music scholar and critic, Dr. Karl Schmidt writes of the work
“Hill's Piano Quartet is a lively work, somewhat in the style of Robert Schumann. Even today, it makes a strong impression in the concert hall as we know from recent performances. It is impossible not to recognize the outstanding compositional technique, the excellent musical ideas and the highly effective use of all four instruments."
At its premiere, the music critic for the Neue Frankfurter Presse wrote:
“The first movement of Wilhelm Hill's Piano Quartet begins with a powerful and energetic theme which is in strong contrast to the pleasing and delicate subject which appears in the violin and cello. In the Poco Adagio which follows, one hears echoes of Wagner's Lohengrin which offers a nice change of pace rhythmically speaking. This is followed by a waltz like Allegro animato which takes the place of a scherzo. The main subject of the finale, Allegro con brio, succeeds because of its clarity."
This fine work has been unavailable for more than a century, we reprinted the original edition but have added rehearsal letters and corrected a few mistakes. It should appeal to both professionals and amateurs alike.