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Wilhelm Berger - Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 95

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Published on Sep 20, 2015

- Composer: Wilhelm Reinhard Berger (9 August 1861 -- 16 January 1911)
- Performers: Jost Michaels (piano), Susanne Rabenschlag (violin), Peter Stein (violin), Karin Wolf (viola), Didier Poskin (cello)
- Year of recording: 1993

Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 95, written in 1904.

00:00 - I. Allegro non troppo ed energico
17:20 - II. Poco adagio
28:40 - III. Molto vivace
37:17 - IV. Allegro moderato e con brio

Wilhelm Berger (not to be confused with Wilhelm Peterson-Berger!) was born in Boston but returned to Germany with his family within a year of his birth. He grew up in Bremen where he received his first lessons in voice and piano. A scholarship allowed him to study with the famous composition teacher Friedrich Kiel in Berlin at the Hochschule für Musik. After graduating, he held a number of teaching positions, including that of Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy. He also served as director of the famous Meiningen Court Orchestra.

Berger, though his compositions had won many prizes and were often performed, did not quickly achieve the fame he deserved. Highly respected by the cognoscenti, he never self-promoted or advertised himself with the wider musical public as did several others. Fame finally did start to come, but just at the moment of his death, at which time he was starting to be regarded, along with Max Reger, as Germany's most important successor to Brahms. Unfortunately, the First World War and its aftermath, led to a total lack of interest for many decades of nearly all romantic composers, and the reputation of those who were less well-known such as Berger, never really recovered.

This Piano Quintet dates from 1904 and was composed shortly after his Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano. As with the Trio, it is tonally is more advanced than Brahms but not quite so advanced as Reger. The editor of The Chamber Music Journal described the Quintet as follows:
- "Masterpiece is not a word to be to bandied about lightly, but of its genre, this work qualifies. The opening Allegro non troppo ed energico is massive and breathtakingly broad in conception, lasting nearly 20 minutes but its leisurely captivating themes hold the listener throughout. The Poco Adagio which follows is also a big movement. The part writing is very fine and his total mastery of compositional technique is apparent. The third movement, Molto Vivace, is an excellent scherzo which goes well beyond the limits of Brahms. The concluding Allegro moderato e con brio again is also a big movement. Here is a chamber work conceived on the scale much like a Mahler symphony."

The piano quintet is dedicated: "Dem böhmischen Streichquartett in Verehrung zugeeignet".

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