A welcome return to Luton by some of our most popular chamber musicians. And given our seasonal theme of family relationships the presence of a couple in the quartet’s line-up makes them even more welcome!
Schumann’s Piano Quintet, a format this prolific composer invented, is dedicated to his beloved wife Clara, ‘The Queen of the Piano’. Written in 1842, two years after their marriage, it is clear that the flood of invention in Robert’s ‘year of song’, 1840, continues in full spate. After their turbulent courtship, during which Clara’s father so vehemently opposed their union, Robert’s now consummated love for Clara can be heard writ large on every page of this Romantic score. She in her turn gave the immediately successful première in Leipzig, where this ravishing work caught the ear of no less an advocate than Hector Berlioz – there was another man who knew what it was to kindle the flames of passion until they caught fire in a glorious blaze of music!
Schumann’s quintet was written in his early 30s. Brahms’s magnificent F minor Quintet was written at almost exactly the same age. It too is a masterpiece. Unlike Schumann’s piece however, which was created in just three weeks, Brahms’s Quintet did not come easily, beginning life as first a string quintet and then a sonata for two pianos. It was in part Clara Schumann’s recommendation that led Johannes then to cast it as a Piano Quintet and allow the brilliance of the material finally to be recognised.
Simon Callaghan … velvet-gloved pianism of ravishing sensitivity.”