Piano Quintet in G Major, Op.40
"Otto Malling's Piano Quintet, along with that of Peter Heise, is the finest Danish Piano Quintet from the Romantic era. But I need not confine myself to Denmark, it is a work which need not fear comparison with nearly any other Romantic era piano quintet."---Carl Nielsen
Otto Malling (1848-1915) was born in Copenhagen. Studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music with Niels Gade and Johan (J.P.E.) Hartmann. He worked as a teacher and composer and eventually became a professor and then director at the Royal Danish Academy. Among his many students was the composer Knudage Riisager.
Most of his compositions were for voice and or organ—he also served as chief organist of the Copenhagen Cathedral many years. However, he also composed orchestral and instrumental music, including his Op.36 Piano Trio which dates from 1889. Showing the influence of Schumann, it was widely regarded as one of the very best Danish piano trios from the Romantic era. After the First World War as musical tastes changed and the Romantic movement was disparaged, he and his music were promptly forgotten. However, today, he is being rediscovered to the delight of listeners and players.
The Piano Quintet was composed around 1893 and enjoyed enough popularity to go through two editions. However, like so many other fine Romantic era works, disappeared from the repertoire after the First World War. The substantial opening movement, Allegro moderato, begins with a broad, lyrical theme, heavily accented. The cello introduces a softer second subject over the sighs of the violins before the others join in. An exciting Scherzo, with overtones of Mendelssohn, follows. The pace is breath-taking. There are fine contrasting two trios, the first is slower and more lyrical, while the second is muscular and thrusting. The Serenade, Andantino, poco allegretto, is perhaps the most striking of the quintet. It begins with a charming, ethereal, fairy-like theme accompanied by bright pizzicati and a soft piano part. Then, suddenly, a declamatory melody is announced by the cello which is allowed to take the lead. The finale, Allegro molto, begins with a dramatic theme played over a constant tremolo. It rushes forward with great urgency until it is interrupted by a lovely, singing melody. The music then turns joyous and triumphant.
This is first rate piano quintet from the Romantic era. Neither professionals nor amateurs will be disappointed by making this work's acquaintance. Unavailable for nearly a century, we are pleased to bring it back and hope you will give it a chance.