Piano Quintet in C Major, Op.45
Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music devotes four pages to Martucci's Piano Quintet, calling it, expressive, ingenious, massive, poetic and high art. The Chamber Music Journal described it as an absolutely first rate work from start to finish that belongs in concert halls.
Giuseppe Martucci (1856-1909) was born in the southern Italian city of Capua. His father was a bandmaster and gave him his first music lessons on the piano. When it was discovered that the boy was prodigy, he was sent to the Naples Conservatory at the age of 11. Before he could graduate, his father, seeing his son's amazing talent, decided to cash in and started him on a successful concert career. Martucci became well-known as a concert artist throughout Europe and his playing was admired by Liszt among others.
However, later when he became of age and gained independence from his father, he worked as a professor at the Naples Conservatory, virtually ending his concert career. Besides being an important teacher, he also became the conductor of the Naples Symphony Orchestra and later the Liceo Musicale Bolognese orchestra. He is recognized as an important late 19th century Italian composer and was considered the leader of the group of Italian composers determined to break away from the dominance of opera in Italy and to restore instrumental music to its rightful place.
The spirit of Brahms hovers over the marvelous, spacious opening Allegro giusto. The leisurely opening theme is a lovely haunting melody which dominates the proceedings. The part writing is magnificent. In the second movement, Andante con moto, there is a more vocal quality to the main theme. The third movement, a bustling Scherzo, allegro vivace, is more muscular and thrusting in nature but certainly is not harsh or rough. Though it does not sound like Schumann, nonetheless there are hints of that masterís influence in this very fluent and appealing music. The full-blooded finale, Allegro con brio, has a powerful and driving melody for its main theme. The richly scored second theme, sung by strings, is some of the most gorgeous late-romantic music you will ever hear.
Long out of print, we are pleased to make this masterwork available once again and hope that professionals and amateurs will seek it out.