Piano Quintet in g minor
Sibelius composed his Piano Quintet in g minor in 1890 while studying in Berlin. Its premiere, which took place a few months later in Helsinki, with his teacher the famous virtuoso pianist Ferruccio Busoni on the piano, was not a success. As a result, Sibelius laid it aside and it was not published during his lifetime. To the best of our knowledge, there is no complete autograph copy of the work. A copy of the score can be found in the Helsinki University library, and copies of the parts can be found in libraries in Finland and Germany. However, they are all partially the work of copyists. Hence, there can be, at least at this time, no definitive edition of the work. While previous editions have consulted the manuscripts of the score and the parts, which do not always agree with each other, our edition is based solely on the score, since there is a good chance it almost certainly predates the parts and avoids any possible further errors which a copyist might make.
The Quintet is the work of a young composer finding his way, a work of experimentation, but nonetheless, it has the stamp of originality and in many respects is the harbinger of his more mature music. It was inspired by the Piano Quintet of Christian Sinding which he heard Busoni perform with various quartets. It is a massive affair in five movements. The opening movement begins Grave-Allegro. with a tremolo of fifths on the piano and chromatic outbursts of despair in the strings. The effects are almost orchestral in power. The main theme grows from the slow introduction. Next comes a pleasant Intermezzo followed by an effective Andante, the second subject of which is a march. The fourth movement is an attractive Scherzo. The large finale, Moderato vivace has several appealing thematic ideas. It is not overly difficult and can also be recommended to experienced amateurs
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) is well-known for his symphonies, violin concerto and tone poems, but outside of his string quartet "Voces Intimae", none of his many chamber works has received the attention of the public. Sibelius was born into a Swedish-speaking family in Hämeenlinna in the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland. Although known as "Janne" to his family, during his student years, he began using the French form of his name, "Jean", inspired by the business card of his seafaring uncle. With the rise of Finnish Nationalism, his family decided to send him to a Finnish language school. Nationalism was to become a crucial element in Sibelius' artistic output and his politics.
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