Piano Quintet in D flat Major, Op.5
"Dirk Schäfer's Piano Quintet is effectively and brilliantly written. Principal and counterpoint melodies are happily combined."--- Willem Landre writing in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music
Dirk Schäfer (1873-1931) was born in Rotterdam. He studied piano at the local conservatory and then entered the Cologne Conservatory for further studies. Later in Berlin, he won the Mendelssohn Prize, besting 25 other pianists. He was widely regarded as the best Dutch pianist ever. He toured as a virtuoso for a number of years before returning to Amsterdam where he devoted himself to composing and teaching. He was one of the few Dutch composers of the period who composed chamber music works and his Op.5 Piano Quintet, which dates from 1901, met with great success and was for many years regularly performed in concert.
The Quintet is the work of a young man. It is written on a large scale and is full of energy, drama and power. The huge opening movement, Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso, begins with a short fanfare, then goes quiet but quickly builds up to the full statement of the powerful and majestic main theme. The second movement, Adagio patetico, made such a strong impression upon listeners that it was often performed by itself. It begins softly with strings singing a quivering melody. Drama is built by means of quick upward racing scale passages which give the feeling of great breadth. It is the introduction of the dramatic second subject which creates a powerful sense of urgency. The Allegro vivo e scherzando which follows lightens the mood with its fleet-footed dancing rhythm, bright and lively. The lyrical and highly romantic trio section provides excellent contrast. The finale, Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso--Allegro con spirito begins by repeating the opening bars of the first movement which are somewhat dark in tonal color. But the main section, is spirited, bright and upbeat. (our sound-bite starts at the Allegro con spirito)
Like so many other fine romantic era works, this one, too, fell by the wayside after the First World War, when a strong reaction against the Romantic movement doomed all but the most famous composers from that era. Lesser lights such as Schäfer saw their works disappear from the repertoire. We believe, however, that it is high time for what is a first class piano quintet to be rediscovered and once again take its rightful place among its peers. Out of print for the better part of a century, it is with pleasure that we reintroduce it.