Piano Quartet in c minor, Op.61
Wladyslaw (Ladislas) Zelenski (1837-1921) was born in Grodkowice not far from the city of Cracow. After studying piano locally with several teachers, including the well-known concert pianist Alexander Dreyschock, he went to Prague Univeristy where he took a doctorate in philosophy. He also took composition lessons from Josef Krej„i after which he enrolled in the Paris Conservatory where he continued his composition lessons with Henri Reber. Upon his return to Poland he enjoyed a long career as a concert pianist, teacher and composer. He held several important teaching posts including Director of the Cracow Conservatory which he helped to found. He wrote in most genres and left a number of chamber music works which have received considerable praise from the well-known critic, Wilhelm Altmann.
Zelenski's Piano Quartet was composed around 1907 and published in 1910. The big, restless opening movement, Allegro con brio, starts somewhat hesitantly but quickly builds to a dramatic climax which releases the lovely second theme. The movement is simply brimming with gorgeous material which is crowned by exquisite part-writing. The cello brings forth the long-lined main theme to second movement, Romanza, andante sostenuto. One barely notices as the other voices join in this highly romantic song without words. The third movement, Intermezzo allegretto, is a dance, full of exotic perfume, first there are wafts of French and then Spanish melody. After a few powerful measures of piano introductions, the strings bring forth main theme to the finale, Allegro appassionato. It is powerful and thrusting, yet full of yearning.
It is hard to understand how a fine work like this did not enter the repertoire. Perhaps because like so many other wonderful late romantic works, it was washed away by the reaction in the aftermath of the First World War. There is no question but that it belongs in the concert hall and will interest professional groups, but at the same time, amateur groups will also rejoice in such a lovely work. Long out of print, we are please to make it available once again.