Piano Quintet No.1 in d minor, Op.7
In his chamber music Widor displays a melodic elegance that is characteristically French. There is delicacy of texture and of tonal color, and yet, there is also much vigor and passages of great power. That Widor's Op.7 is not better known is a real shame for it is, though very different, certainly the equal of the famous piano quintet by Cesar Franck's. ---From the Chamber Music Journal.
Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937) today is primarily remembered for his organ compositions and as one of the greatest organists of all time. Widor was born in Lyons and studied first studied with his father, also an organist, and then at the Brussels Conservatory. In 1870, upon the recommendation of Charles Gounod and Camille Saint-Saens, he was appointed to the most important position an organist could hold in France, the position of organist at Saint Sulpice Church in Paris. In 1890, he succeeded Cesar Franck as Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatory and many important composers, including, Darius Milhaud, Louis Vierne, Marcel Dupre, and Edgar Varese, studied with him. He composed throughout his life in virtually every genre and left a considerable amount of chamber music. The fact that his chamber music along with his other non-organ compositions have been ignored is because of his tower contribution to the organ literature. But Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music states that his chamber music is of the first rank and as good as that of Saint-Saens.
The First Piano Quintet is thought to date from around 1890. The main theme to the opening Allegro starts off with a menacing, martial quality. Widor, through the use of careful of dynamics, achieves very effective tonal color as well as dramatic climaxes. The lovely second movement, Andante, shows great delicacy and a refinement of taste. The part-writing, particularly notable for the interplay between the voices, is very fine. The appealing, very French scherzo, Molto vivace, which follows, lightens the mood by being in the major. The main theme is playful and bright. The trio section, also bright, is somewhat more relaxed and provides excellent contrast. The finale, Allegro con moto, begins with a vigorous melody in the strings. The second theme, quite lyrical, is introduced by the cello against arpeggiated passages in the piano.
This Quintet definitely belongs in the front rank of romantic French piano quintets. We have reprinted the original edition, which unfortunately appeared without rehearsal letters. We have remedied this and also corrected a few errors that we found. Out of print for many years now, this Piano Quintet would make an excellent concert program choice and is also entirely suitable for amateur groups.