Notes and Editorial Reviews
Andante with Variations,
Larghetto with Variations,
Tr Parnassus; Thomas Selditz (va); Stanislau Anishchanka (db)
MDG 303 1549 (71:49)
You might say that the Trio Parnassus owns the music of Prince Louis Ferdinand, at least his chamber music for small ensemble—piano trios, quartets, and one quintet (op. 11,
listed above) with the same scoring as Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet. Titled “Complete Piano Trios, Vol. 3,” the present volume, in fact, has no trios at all; the “complete trios” is more accurately a compilation of most of his chamber music. At present, the Trio Parnassus appears to be alone in recording any of the rather small but worthy corpus of music composed by Louis Ferdinand. (The unfortunate Prince, killed in battle in 1805 at the age of 34, completed a total of just 13 opuses, of which 10 are chamber works with piano.)
The Trio Parnassus has made a vital contribution to the discovery and performance of many forgotten musical treasures from the 19th century, including works by Hummel, Bargiel, Scharwenka, and Rheinberger. Prince Louis Ferdinand, a highly talented and accomplished pianist/composer whose teacher was Jan Ladislav Dussek, certainly deserves inclusion in such a group. He was admired by none other than Beethoven, who, after hearing him play, called him a “true musician” and dedicated his Third Piano Concerto to him.
Louis Ferdinand had a gift for writing attractive melodies, and also a fertile imagination when it came to varying them. Variation movements are common in his
and although he follows the traditional style of variations—increasing rhythmic figuration and tempo, and including a minor key variation, e.g.—there are often surprises, especially since his harmonic writing at times anticipates the music of Schubert and Schumann. His music—especially the piano parts—is technically difficult and brilliant, no doubt intended to demonstrate the virtuosity of the composer.
The dedication of the Trio Parnassus, aided by excellent collaborators, is evident in the high quality of its performance. The ensemble is precise and the intonation of the strings is spot on. I have commented before on the outstanding work of the pianist, Chia Chou, who in addition to handling the demands of the virtuoso piano-writing with seeming ease, also knows when to fade into the background and leave the spotlight to his colleagues. His playing has polish and refinement as well as brilliance.
MDG once again demonstrates the success of its excellent technique in producing a recording using “the natural acoustics of specially chosen concert halls.” The balance among the instruments is perfect, and the sound is warm and vivid. In sum, this is most attractive music, put together with inspiration and skill. Strongly recommended.
FANFARE: Susan Kagan
Works on This Recording
Larghetto and Variations for Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass and Piano in G major, Op. 11 by Louis Ferdinand
Quartet for Piano and Strings, Op. 5 by Louis Ferdinand
Andante with Variations, Op. 4 by Louis Ferdinand
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