Piano Quartet No.2 in a minor, Op.30
We are very pleased to present the second of Robert Kahn's three marvelous piano quartets, which, along with his other two, are as good as any from the late Romantic era. We are not alone in this opinion. The esteemed chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann, writing in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music described this piano quartet as an "unusually fresh and fascinating work with a rich store of ideas employed with perfect mastery of form."
Robert Kahn (1865-1951) was born in Mannheim of a well-to-do banking family. He began his studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. There, he got to know and became friends with Joseph Joachim who was the director. It was through both Joachim and his own family that he had a chance to get to know Brahms, who was so impressed with Kahn that he offered to give him composition lessons. However, Kahn was too overawed to accept. Nevertheless, Brahms did help Kahn informally, and while Kahn's work does, to some extent, show the influence of Brahms, he is an eclectic and independent composer whose music has its own originality. After finishing his studies in Berlin, Kahn, on Brahms' suggestion, went to Munich to study with Joseph Rheinberger. After completing his own studies, he worked for a while as a free lance composer before obtaining a position at the Hochschule in Berlin where he eventually became a professor of piano and composition.
Piano Quartet No.2 dates from 1899. The opening movement, Allegro energico, opens with a splendid first subject makes an instant appeal, while the heroic second theme has a Brahmsian tinge. The second movement begins with a gorgeous Larghetto in which the principal melody is given out at first by the strings alone. Kahn ingeniously intersperses a bright and lively scherzo which appears twice between the Larghetto sections. Next comes an Allegretto grazioso which for all intents and purposes is an intermezzo. However, the lighter second subject projects an energy lacking in the first. The finale, Vivace ma non troppo, instantly attracts attention by virtue of its bright and unusual rhythm. It is followed by a charming and mellower second theme.
We have corrected errors and added rehearsal letters to the the original edition which we have reprinted. Professional groups looking for a first rate and fresh work will surely find that this piano quartet fits the bill. Meanwhile amateurs will enjoy many a pleasant session playing this fine work.