Ensemble Il Trittico: Hermann Goetz Piano Quintet

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Hermann Goetz - Piano Quintet (1874)
Performed by Ensemble Il Trittico

Hermann Goetz (1840-1876)
Hermann Goetz (1840-1876) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I. Andante Sostenuto - Allegro Con Fuoco - 00:00
II. Andante Con Moto - 9:27
III. Allegro Moderato - 16:53
IV. Allegro Vivace - 20:14

"Hermann Goetz's Piano Quintet is unlikely to become popular among amateurs because it calls for a double bass. This is all the more regrettable as the composer has produced a work of real importance." --This was the opinion of the respected chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann, writing in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music.

Hermann Goetz (1840-1876) studied theology and mathematics in Königsberg where he was born. Eventually he switched to music and attended the Stern Conservatory in Berlin where he studied with the founder Julius Stern, as well as Hans von Bülow and Hugo Ulrich. In 1862, he succeeded Theodor Kirchner as organist at the church in Winterthur.

The Piano Quintet, his last chamber music work, was composed in 1874, but was not published until two years after his death. On the manuscript is an anguished quote full of suffering taken from Goethe. Goetz, who well knew he was dying of tuberculosis, poured much of his sorrow and bitterness into this excellent piece. The opening movement begins softly with a funereal, Andante sostenuto introduction. Full of grief, it gives way to a highly dramatic Allegro con fuoco which clearly evinces his anguish at what he knows is his impending death. The second movement, Andante con moto, has a warm, affectionate melody for its main theme. The following Allegro moderato, quasi Menuetto is a cross between a scherzo and a march of destiny. In the wonderfully contrasting trio section, the cello produces what is the only happy melody in the quintet. It is a naive and innocent dance. The finale, Allegro vivace, begins with a syncopated devil's dance that races along with much forward energy.