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Ludwig THUILLE (1861-1907)
Piano Quintet in E flat Op. 20 (1901) [41.20]
Piano Quintet in G minor (1880) [23.19]
Tomer Lev (piano)
Falk String Quartet
rec. 1-3 Mar 2002, Champs Hill, Pulborough, Sussex, DDD
ASV CD DCA 1171 [65.17]


Thuille, a Savoyard, created a name for himself in Munich’s academic life. Now, if his name is known at all, it is because of his famous pupils who included Hermann Abendroth, Ernest Bloch and Walter Braunfels. His writing as a composer has been overshadowed by his reputation as a teacher. Perhaps all that will be changed by this CD. It deserves to. In fact he wrote plentifully with almost one hundred songs and six operas although I can find only three listed in my old edition of Grove. The operas include the comedy Theuerdank from 1894 which cut quite a dash for a year or two although not heard until 1897 (Munich). Lobetanz (Carlsruhe, 1898) is reputedly superior to Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel being similar in style. Gugeline (1900, Bremen 1901) is suppose to be even stronger. There is an 1887 sextet for piano and wind instruments (recorded), also a cello sonata said to be one of his most important works and two violin sonatas. The Romantic Overture is in fact the prelude to Theuerdank and there is said tobe a Symphony as well. You may also find some attractive works for women’s and men's choruses.

Music tumbles in lyrically limitless profusion from the first movement of his 1901 Piano Quintet. This is music of the school of Schumann with bounding energy and a tendency to ‘Hollywood weepy’ sentiment. The torrential flow can be compared with the work of Karl Weigl, Cyril Scott and John Foulds. It is notable that this dynamism extends from bass to top. There is more restraint - almost austerity - in the adagio assai which is a quarter hour long. The third movement is gusty and bumpily energetic. The finale is thematically inventive again in the thrusting Schumann vein. I would be surprised if you were not well and truly engaged by Thuille's striking romanticism. He even ends the piece freshly and without resort to easy finale clichés.

The three movement G minor work is much shorter. This is more conventional than the E flat quintet. It is, after all, the work of a 19 year old. It steams along with a rather vacuous fervour in the first and last movements but between them comes a very fine larghetto with memorable writing.

Incidentally, is the cellist really Mats Lindstrom? I think not. This is surely Mats Lidstrom a cellist seemingly forever doomed to this sort of misprint.

There are good notes by Richard Whitehouse though I wished that he had told us more about Thuille's other works.

I hope that this is not the last we hear of the ardent Thuille.

Rob Barnett


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