Piano Quintet No.2 in a minor, Op.145
Franz Lachner (1803-90) was born in Rain am Lech, a small Bavarian town and trained in Munich. He is the older brother of Ignaz, whose works we also publish. In 1823, by winning a musical competition, Lachner was awarded a position as an organist in a church in Vienna. In Vienna, he met Schubert. “We two, Schubert and I, spent most of our time together sketching new compositions. We were the closest of friends, mornings performing for each other and discussing in depth every imaginable topic with the greatest of candor.” It should come as no surprise then that Schubert influenced Lachner’s musical compositions more than anyone else. He left Vienna in 1834 and returned to Munich where he remained the rest of his life, serving as Conductor of the Royal Bavarian Orchestra from 1834 to 1868. He also held the position of Professor of Composition at the Royal Conservatory. That Lachner’s compositions began to disappear from the performance stage was due in large part to the fact that Lachner became an antagonist of Richard Wagner and his music. Wagner and his supporters, of course, retaliated and when they eventually gained the ear of the King, they were, by 1870, able to control what was performed, at least in Bavaria.
Franz Lachner's Second Piano Quintet was composed in 1869. This was well into the mid romantic era. However, it is worth remembering that Lachner was a child of the late classical and early romantic era and it is interesting to note that the Second Piano Quintet, which was written shortly after the first, was dedicated to, and most likely commissioned by, the same individual: A.G. Kurtz, a prominent English business man and patron of the arts who was a highly talented pianist. Kurtz, who was known for his conservative tastes may well have chosen Lachner because his musical style was not in any way influenced by and was far more conservative than Brahms and his followers.
The opening Allegro begins with the piano presenting the pregnant main theme by itself before the strings join in. The lovely music is colored by its minor key but it is dark rather than tragic. It is clearly anchored in aura of the early romantic. In the Adagio non troppo which follows, its the strings who along state the beautiful first subject. While the thematic material is conservative for the time, the handling of the voices is masterful and leaves nothing to be desired. Next comes a charming Tempo di menuetto with a finely contrasting middle section in which the cello is given the lead. The first section of the finale, Allegro, is a wild and exciting race. The second subject is a more stately melody but still with plenty of forward motion.
Here is a fine, early-mid Romantic work which would please concert hall audience as well as amateur quarter groups. We have reprinted the original 1869 edition which did not have rehearsal letters and because of its age was faded in several places. We have added rehearsal letters and darkened many of those parts which were faint to make a serviceable performance edition. Because it is not quite up to modern standards, we offer it below our already very attractive standard piano quintet price.