Hyperion Records

Piano Quartet in C minor, Op 61

'Zarębski: Piano Quintet; Żeleński: Piano Quartet' (CDA67905)
Zarębski: Piano Quintet; Żeleński: Piano Quartet
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67905  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Movement 1: Allegro con brio
Movement 2: Romanza: Andante sostenuto
Movement 3: Intermezzo: Allegretto
Movement 4: Finale: Allegro appassionato

Piano Quartet in C minor, Op 61
Zelenski’s Piano Quartet in C minor, Op 61, shares the romantic outlook of Zarebski’s quintet and of another Polish piano quartet, by Zygmunt Noskowski (1846–1909). These three works share a yearning lyricism and passionate momentum that owe something to Mendelssohn and Schumann as well as Brahms, yet there is also a Slavic element that sets them apart from these composers’ works for piano and strings. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Zelenski’s first movement. The opening idea, with its sharpened fourth, has a folk-like tone, although this is more colouristic than substantive. Even so, the sharpened fourth appears again in the third movement, Intermezzo, and it is embedded in some of the piano writing in the Finale.

The first movement is indicative of Zelenski’s ability to mould high lyricism with a strong sense of momentum. The piano plays a key role, while the string trio is often used in unison for maximum expressivity. The second theme is especially eloquent. Zelenski repeats the exposition, before pursuing a development of shifting tonalities and dramatic contrasts. Most subtly and seamlessly, he ushers in the recapitulation by starting it part-way through the first theme. As in the first movement of Zarebski’s quintet, the coda’s forward drive is interrupted for a last moment of lyrical reflection. There is an unusual diminuendo on the final open-fifth chord.

The Romanza in A flat that follows is a song without words, initiated by the cello. Its wistful tone gives way to a central idea played by the string trio, its searching semiquavers leading to an impasto-like texture that ranges from troubled to stormy. As this subsides, the opening theme floats in, molto tranquillo, although the recapitulation proper comes a little later. Zelenski treats this as an opportunity for further variation and drawing together of the movement’s themes.

Although the third movement in G minor is called Intermezzo, its roots lie in the mazurka, with its first-beat rhythm and second-beat punctuation. Zelenski’s take on this Polish dance is quirky. The movement begins off-key and off-beat and the air is one of whimsy rather than regular foot-stamping. A singing second idea in B flat interrupts the mazurka briefly. There are two contrasting episodes: dark string murmurings in E flat major, brought to order by the piano, and a scampering idea in G major, which also reappears to round off the movement.

The Allegro appassionato has all the hallmarks of a classic sonata finale. At heart it is a tarantella, surging forward even though there are lyrical temptations put in its way. The second subject, played by the piano in octaves, is a perky idea, sounding rather like a fugue subject. It in turn gives way to the high-flown lyricism familiar from earlier in the quartet. After the second subject is indeed treated to a brief fugato at the end of the development, Zelenski, as in the first movement, reintroduces the main theme, part-way through. A brief coda brings the quartet to a rousing end with a final motivic hint in the piano of its very first theme.

from notes by Adrian Thomas © 2012

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for HYP201212 track 2
Movement 3: Intermezzo: Allegretto
Recording date
6 December 2011
Recording venue
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Jeremy Hayes
Recording engineer
Ben Connellan
Hyperion usage
  1. Zarebski: Piano Quintet; Zelenski: Piano Quartet (CDA67905)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: December 2012
  2. Hyperion monthly sampler – December 2012 (HYP201212)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: December 2012
    Download-only monthly sampler
   English   Français   Deutsch