Quartet for Piano, Clarintet (or Viola),
Violin & Cello in E Flat Major, Op.1
If fans of chamber do not know the name of Walter Rabl (1873-1940), they may be excused. Although Rabl, after giving up the study of law, set out to be a composer, his composing career was rather short and most of what he wrote was either for voice or the opera. He made his name as a conductor and only has two chamber works to his credit, a set of fantasy pieces for piano trio and this Quartet for Piano, Clarinet, Violin and Cello.
Rabl was born in Vienna and studied there as well as in Salzburg and Prague where he worked on a doctorate. It was this Quartet which set him on his way. He entered the work in the 1896 competition held by the Wiener Tonkünstlerverein (Vienna Musicians Association). Brahms, who was the head judge, selected the work for the first prize and recommended it to his publisher Simrock, who published it the following year.
Rabl dedicated the Quartet to Brahms and any listener will hear that composer's influence upon the music, but it would be very wrong to regard it as a mere imitation. If it were, Brahms would never have selected it. Beginning composers do not spring forth fully formed and are almost always influenced by someone who has come before them, be it their teacher or a famous composer. Brahms, when he was beginning, was influenced greatly by Mendelssohn and Schumann.
Do not let the Opus designation mislead you, this is an extraordinarily mature work which could well have come from the pen of someone who had been practicing their art for 25 years rather than two or three. The opening Allegro moderato begins with a rather languid, melody, reminiscent of Brahms' Op.114 trio for piano, clarinet and cello. Slowly the music builds to a joyous climax. The second subject, evocative of forest murmurs is not at all Brahmsian. The second movement, Adagio molto, is a theme and set of variations. The theme is a somber, funereal march. The variations are superb in the way they change the mood and tonal color. The following Andantino un poco mosso begins in a relaxed Brahmsian fashion but changes mood in a rather original fashion. The buoyant finale, Allegro con brio, brings this excellent piece to a satisfying close.
Originally for Piano, Clarinet, Violin and Cello, the publisher Simrock insisted that Rabl make a viola part in lieu of the clarinet, thus creating a standard piano quartet, to insure that this delightful work would achieve as wide a circulation as possible. Out of print for long periods of time and always hard to get, we are pleased to make it available once again.
Set of Parts for Piano, Clarinet, Violin & Cello : $29.95
Set of Parts for Piano, Viola, Violin & Cello : $29.95
All 5 Parts: Piano, Clarinet, Viola, Violin & Cello $34.95