Piano Quintet in D Major, Op.20
Ferdinand Thieriot (1838-1919), five years younger than Brahms, was not only born in Hamburg, but also studied with the same teacher, Eduard Marxein. The two knew each other from their Hamburg days and remained on friendly terms. After Hamburg, Thieriot finished his studies in Munich with Joseph Rheinberger and then moved to Vienna where his friend Brahms was instrumental in helping him obtain the position of Styrian Music Director in the provincial capital of Graz where he worked between 1870-85. Later, Thieriot held important positions in Leipzig and Hamburg where he remained from 1902 until his death. For the most part, Thieriot, like Brahms, remained true to the classical traditions which preceded him and took Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Schumann as his models. Only toward the end of his life did he his work show some of the influence of the "New German Music" of Wagner and Liszt.
Thieriot wrote a great deal of chamber music, most of it of very high quality. Wilhelm Altmann, one of the most influential and perceptive chamber music critics of all time, writing of Thieriot's chamber music, states:
Thieriot's chamber music is without exception noble and pure. He writes with perfect command of form and expression.
The Piano Quintet in D Major appeared in 1869 and a "new and improved edition" was put out in 1894. In four movements, the work opens with a big Allegro con spirito. The strings, double stopping, create an almost orchestral presentation of the main theme which only after a full statement reenters the realm of chamber music. The thematic material is lush and lyrical. Next comes a somber and stately Adagio. A lively Scherzo characterized more by its pounding and insistent rhythm than by its melody follows. The trio section with the strings singing in chorale fashion presents a nice contrast. The exciting finale, Allegro con moto, begins somewhat darkly with Hungarian tinges but the mood lightens as the movement progresses and the entrance of the second subject.
This is certainly a worthy addition to the piano quintet literature, a work which is strong enough for the concert hall but also suitable for amateur players. Our of print for more than a century, we are pleased to reprint the "new and improved" second edition.