Piano Quartet No.2 in E Major, Op.117 "Waldlieder"
Hans Huber (1852-1921) was born in the Swiss town of Eppenberg. Between 1870-74, he studied at the Leipzig Conservatory with Carl Reinecke and Ernst Richter. After graduating he held a number of positions before being appointed a professor at the Basel Conservatory, where he served as director between 1889-1917. Huber’s music was firmly rooted in the Romantic movement inspired at first by Schumann and Brahms and then later by Liszt and Richard Strauss. He was widely considered Switzerland’s leading composer during the last quarter of the 19th and first decade of the 20th century. He composed in virtually every genre and many of his works were for long years part of various repertoires and the only works by a Swiss composer that were regularly performed outside of Switzerland.
Huber's Second Piano Quartet dates from 1901. It became known as the Waldlieder (Forest Song) Piano Quartet because lines from a poem by the important Swiss poet Gottfried Keller appeared on the title page of the first edition: "The branches and the treetops of the oak forest are standing intertwined / Today it sang to me its old song in a happy voice." The Swiss music critic wrote of the Piano Quartet that "the music breathes the joy of the holidays and the wanderer's happiness, depicting with graphic clarity, as does Keller's poem, the forest in calm and in storm." The opening movement, Andante con moto, begins with an air of contemplation, tenderly creating a sound picture of nature's magical moments. However, as the music progresses, the we hear winds rushing through the trees creating a sense of drama. The second movement, Allegro con fuoco, characterized by an ever present restlessness and as well as downward plunging chromaticism, is a furious scherzo in which a storm bursts. The next movement, Adagio molto, begins where the scherzo has left off. One can hear the forest after the storm, the raindrops dripping from the branches, which are hanging low from the damaging winds. But in the finale, Allegro ma non troppo, the sun has come out and is glistening upon the leaves. There is a joyous return of normality in a hymn of thanksgiving.
Long out of print, we are pleased to make it available once again. It is undoubtedly a candidate for concert performance and should also find a welcome place on the music stands of amateurs.