Piano Quartet in E Major, Op.20
"This is one of the greatest works ever written for piano quartet."---Robert Max writing in The Chamber Music Journal.
The Piano Quartet in E Major dates from 1906 and is written on a huge scale. It was and is frequently performed inside of Russia and is generally held to be the equal of any other work written for this ensemble. The opening movement, Allegro brillante, begins with a bold, dashing melody. One passionate theme after another is introduced as the movement proceeds, each changing the mood in its own way. It ends with a rousing coda. The second movement, Adagio, piu tosto largo, provides an excellent example of Taneyev’s melodic gifts. The middle section adds contrast with its agitation. The finale, Allegro molto, might be a textbook lesson in the art of counterpoint, of which Taneyev was an undisputed master. Canonic and fugal episodes are among the many treasures to be found in this mammoth and extraordinary movement.
Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915) is one of the most important Russian composers from the last half of the 19th and early 20th centuries and probably, from this group, the one whose music is the least known in the West. Taneyev came from an aristocratic family that patronized the arts and when Sergei's talent became apparent, his father sent him to the newly opened Moscow Conservatory at the age of 10. His main teachers there were Nicolai Rubinstein for piano and Tchaikovsky for composition. Although he became a brilliant pianist, Taneyev opted for a career as a composer and teacher and soon became a professor at the Conservatory. His fame both as a teacher and as a composer quickly spread. Among his many students were Gliere, Rachmaninov, Gretchaninov, Scriabin and Medtner. In Russian concert halls, one always finds a bust of Taneyev alongside those of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. Sadly, the fame of this outstanding composer has not spread beyond his homeland.
Like his two other works for piano and strings, this is a massive work of great variety and emotion. It certainly belongs on the concert stage and should not be missed either by professionals or amateurs