Piano Quartet in F Major-World Premiere Edition
"A real gem. It's as if Brahms had lived ten years longer and composed another piano quartet. Here is a work not to be missed. A pity the parts are not in available."---from a recording review of this work in The Chamber Music Journal.
Gustav Jenner (1865-1920) was Brahms' only full-time composition student. Jenner, who was born in the town of Keitum on the German island of Sylt, was the son of a doctor who was of Scottish ancestry and a descendant of the famous physician Edward Jenner, pioneer of the vaccination for smallpox. On his mother's side, he descended from Sylt fishermen. Jenner began to teach himself music and attracted the attention of his teachers in Kiel who sent him to study in Hamburg with Brahms' own teacher, Eduard Marxsen. Eventually, Jenner's friends and mentors in Kiel arranged for the penniless young man to study with Brahms in Vienna, which he did from 1888-95. Jenner in his biography of Brahms (Brahms, The Man, The Teacher and The Artist) writes that although Brahms was a merciless critic of Jenner's efforts, he took considerable pains over Jenner's welfare, eventually recommending him for the position of Music Director at the University of Marburg. Jenner held this post from 1895 until his death.
Jenner, no doubt due in part to the training he had under the ultra critical Brahms, was highly critical of his own works and took care to see that only a few were published during his lifetime. These were mostly songs and his Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Horn (1900). Given the fact that few German composers of Brahms' time, none of whom were his students, escaped the great man's influence, it would be unreasonable to expect that someone who studied with Brahms for as long as Jenner did could have done so. Although Jenner writes with great originality and one finds many ideas which Brahms would never have thought of, nonetheless Brahms' influence is often felt in Jenner's music.
The opening movement of the Piano Quartet, a massive Allegro, begins with a spacious, optimistic theme. A more deliberate march-like rhythm quickly follows and leads to a lyrical development. The gorgeous second theme is gentler and redolent fin de siecle Viennese melody. The careful listener will realize that the dreamy, somewhat languid main theme to the second movement, Adagio, is a quote from Schubert's First Piano Trio. Here it is worth remembering Brahms' famous retort to a concertgoer who complained that he had stolen a theme from Mendelssohn: "Any fool can hear that, but look what I did with it!" Certainly, Jenner could have said the same of his ingenious treatment of this lovely melody. Next comes an energetic, muscular Scherzo. It's heavy accents in the base line of the piano and cello create an unusual effect. The soft and gentle trio strikes an altogether different note. The finale, Vivace non troppo, is brimming with ideas. It may well have been a tribute to Brahms. The opening theme is happy and buoyant, characterized by a tricky rhythm. A second subject strongly suggests Brahms' own First Piano Quartet. A third theme blends lovely Viennese melody while yet another has a snappy dance-like quality.
Our edition is based on Jenner's 1905 manuscript and was edited by our senior editor Skyler Silvertrust, who has several world premiere editions to his credit, including the Piano Trio of the American composer Henry Holden Huss, and works by the Ukrainian composers Arkady Filippenko and Andre Shtogarenko. We believe that professionals and amateurs will find this a valuable addition to the literature and are proud to make it available.