Hermann GOETZ (1840-1876)
Quartet in E major, for piano, violin, viola and cello, Op.6 (1867) [37:41)
Quintet in C minor, for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass, Op.16 (1874) [25:55]
Oliver Triendl (piano); Marina Chiche (violin); Peijun Xu (viola); Niklas Schmidt (cello); Matthias Beltinger (double bass)
rec. April 2015, Studio Britz, Berlin
TYX ART TXA15061 [63:54]

Hermann Goetz, seven years Brahms’ junior, was admired by the older man. His piano music and, in particular, his comic opera based on The Taming of the Shrew drew Brahms’ sympathetic enthusiasm and Goetz even had plans for Brahms to complete his (posthumous) opera Francesca da Rimini. In the event the job went to the Mannheim music director, Ernst Frank.

There’s something immensely appealing about Goetz’s music. His piano concerto, recorded on Hyperion CDA67791 by Hamish Milne and coupled with the G minor concerto of Józef Wieniawski, has some especially delightful moments and its indelibly romanticist spirit is faithfully reflected in these two large-scale chamber works. The Piano Quartet, Op.6, composed in 1867 and perhaps inevitably dedicated to Brahms, is a work couched in early romantic lyricism. Elegantly stormy, it has certain affinities with Brahms but as many with Schumann. The piano has a primus inter pares role, most explicitly so in the slow movement, a theme and series of five variations of assured elegance. The jolly and unabashed scherzo emerges seemingly straight out of this slow movement and once past an intense opening section the finale trades in lyric melancholia as well as ebullience and avuncular dynamism.

Seven years later, shortly before his sadly premature death, Goetz turned to the medium of the Piano Quintet, inevitably summoning up reflections on Schubert’s Trout Quintet, with which its shares the same instrumentation. This is the more passionate work, and possesses a storminess for which the earlier work never strives. It’s also the more tenderly explicit, with a ripely confessional quality in the Andante con moto, and a dance-like scherzo to follow. The finale unleashes a bristly fugato but whilst the music – at least in this excellent performance anchored by the ever watchful Oliver Triendl – is not quite the rage-against-death that the notes allege, the work as a whole is the more comprehensively accomplished of these two big chamber pieces. Given that it is a very late work, inasmuch as any Goetz can be said to be late, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

The helpful booklet note is in German and English, whilst the performances are sympathetic - sweetly sensitive in the Quartet, and tougher and more pronounced in the Quintet.

Jonathan Woolf


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