Piano Quartet in a minor, Op.42
“Eduard Nápravník’s 1883 Op.42 Piano Quartet in a minor consists of four big movements of true musical spirit, the outer movements being somewhat orchestral in style in which the composer sometimes groups the strings together against the piano playing unisono. This work can be warmly recommended to experienced players who will always get considerable pleasure from playing this work. The powerful main theme of the first movement, Allegro con spirito, is quite Russian. The second subject is more lyrical and he knows how to cleverly build up to a transition. The Scherzo presto, which comes next features an unusual rhythm which gives the music piquancy while the trio section has a very Russian flavor in part created by the use of repetitive passages. The very fine third movement, Molto moderato quasi Marcia funebre, brings an original sounding funeral march, both themes making a strong impression. The quartet concludes with a Allegro risoluto characterized by bright Russian dance rhythms.”—–Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for Piano Quartet Players.
Eduard Nápravník (1839-1916) was born in Bohemian town of Beischt (now Býšť), in what was then the Habsburg Empire. He learned to play the organ at his local church and then entered the Prague Organ School after which he obtained an appointment to serve as conductor of the famous private orchestra of Prince Yusupov in St. Petersburg. Thereafter he served as conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre and later several Imperial Theaters. He became an influential figure in Russian musical life and was even mentioned in Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov as a famous conductor. He premiered several of Tchaikovsky’s works and assisted the composer in tightening up certain scores. He wrote in most genres but today is remembered for his most successful opera, Dubrovsky. He did not neglect chamber music writing three string quartets, a string quintet, a piano quartet and several instrumental works.
We were only able to find a recording of the superb first movement and have included it in its entirety. The other three movements are just as well done and we hope this first class quartet will find its way into the concert hall as well as onto the stands of amateur players.