Lekeu’s Piano Quartet was commissioned by Eugene Ysaye, the famous violinist and his fellow countryma. The quartet was begun in 1893 and completed the following year. The first movement, Dan un emportement douloureux (in a transport of grief) a massive affair could be regarded as at least two movements in one. Some commentators have noted four distinct sections. It begins in a furious and turbulent fashion. Through the torrents of powerful emotion, lyrical melodies break through like the sun through storm clouds. The second movement, Lent e passione, according to Lekeu’s own letters was to be a nocturne and a love scene. He died, unfortunately before completing it. D’Indy’s contribution was merely adding a seven bar ending.
Lekeu (1870-94) was born in the village of Heusy in Belgium and began his musical studies at a conservatory nearby. In 1888, his family moved to Paris and he entered the Paris Conservatory where first he studied with César Franck and after Franck's death, with Vincent d'Indy. Tragically, Lekeu died of typhoid fever just after his 24th birthday. The usually critical Debussy regarded Lekeu to be as talented as Franck and d'Indy regarded him a genius. In addition to his Violin Sonata, he completed a string quartet, a piano trio and a partially finished piano quartet.
This is a first class work which is the equal of any of piano quartet from this period.