Piano Quartet No.2 in B flat Major, Op.41
"Piano Quartet No.2 in B flat, Op.41 was composed in 1875 and performed with great acclaim at its premiere with Sarasate on violin and the Saint SaŽns on piano. The opening Allegretto shows that Saint SaŽns had assimilated the progress Brahms had made, but one also hears a dreamy French lyricism. The Andante Maestoso, ma con moto is a tour de force. It begins as a powerful march more allegretto than andante in tempo. A marvelous fugal development follows in which every aspect of theme is explored, Bach-like in conception and feel. In the next movement marked, Poco Allegro piu tosto moderato, Saint SaŽns changes the mood with a whirlwind scherzo. The syncopated rhythm to the first subject gives the music its macabre atmosphere. In the finale, Allegro, one does not hear the influence of any of the better known German composers, yet there is an undeniable relationship with German romantic music of that time. The movement does all that a finale should do and its rousing ending suitably brings this fine work to a close. Throughout, Saint SaŽns demonstrates excellent understanding of the balance problem between piano and strings, in many ways far better than Brahms ever did."---R.H.R. Silvertrust writing in The Chamber Music Journal
During the third quarter of the 19 century, when the French only seemed interested in opera, Camille Saint-SaŽns (1835-1921), almost single-handedly, attempted to make the case for chamber music, which so many of his countrymen continued to think of as something German. Although famous for his larger orchestral works and instrumental concertos, he devoted a great deal of time and effort to writing chamber music. Not only does he have two string quartets to his credit, but he also wrote three works for piano trio, a piano quartet, a quintet for piano, two violins, viola and cello, but also sonatas and instrumental works.
The original edition had no rehearsal letters, and although publishers have reprinted that edition, they never bothered to add them. We have remedied this problem and have added rehearsal numbers and corrected a few mistakes which appeared in the original.