Prince of Prussia
Andante & Variations for Piano Quartet, Op.4
"If he is not a composer of the Romantic era, then he must be considered the most romantic of the Classical." So wrote Robert Schumann of Louis Ferdinand Hohenzollern (1772-1806), a nephew of Frederick the Great and a Prince of Prussia.
A professional soldier, who died during a battle fighting Napoleon's invading army, Louis Ferdinand was also trained as a musician, studying piano and composition with several different teachers. He was a gifted pianist, reckoned a virtuoso with few peers by those who heard him, and his compositions have always been regarded as the work of a professional composer. Musicologists generally consider him an early Romantic whose music anticipated Schubert and Schumann, but one can also hear the influence of Mozart as well as early Beethoven. Military and court life left little time to compose and he has but a few works to his credit, mostly chamber music. These include 3 piano trios, 2 piano quartets and a piano quintet.
The Andante with variations was completed in 1806 on the battlefield shortly before the battle in which he was killed. The theme anticipates Chopin and is probably likely that the latter was familiar with and influenced by Louis Ferdinandís works. Six bright and charming variations follow.
Despite the brilliance of the piano part, the strings are shown to good advantage both alone and as an ensemble and treated as equal partners. A welcome addition to the classical era piano quartet literature. Out of print for more than a century, we are pleased to reintroduce it.