Hyperion Records

Intermezzo in D minor
composer
composed in the autumn of 1879 as a replacement for the Scherzo of the String Quintet in F which Joseph Hellmesberger had refused to play; first performance ?1904

Recordings
'Bruckner: String Quintet & Intermezzo; Strauss: Capriccio' (CDH55372)
Bruckner: String Quintet & Intermezzo; Strauss: Capriccio
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55372  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Details
Track 6 on CDH55372 [3'56] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

Intermezzo in D minor
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A glance through the catalogue of the works of Anton Bruckner reminds us of his musical upbringing and environment: choral conductor, organist, then—having heard the music of Wagner—symphonist. His early works include music for military band and for orchestra, though their harmonic conception is firmly rooted in the organ loft. Of his very few pieces of chamber music, an early string quartet was written as a student exercise for a cellist with the Linz Municipal Theatre from whom Bruckner had taken lessons in composition. It remained undiscovered until long after the composer’s death. Some time after its composition, the violinist Joseph Hellmesberger asked Bruckner to write a work for his string quartet. It was not until seventeen years later that Bruckner planned a string quintet using Mozart’s scheme of quartet with an extra viola.

The Quintet was begun in December 1878, shortly after revisions to the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies. Bruckner was fifty-four. It was finished in July 1879 and shown to Hellmesberger. He was ‘not impressed’ with the Scherzo and refused to play the work, saying it was too difficult. Bruckner, ever compliant and anxious to please, wrote an Intermezzo which was completed several months later. The first performances were given without the Finale—in Cologne in December 1879 by the Heckmann Quartet, and by the Winkler Quartet in Vienna the following November. The Winkler Quartet was led by Josef Schalk and the second viola was played by his brother Franz, who (though a friend and admirer of Bruckner) was later to wreak such havoc on the Fifth Symphony by making inartistic cuts and adding music of his own. In May 1883 the Winkler Quartet gave the first complete performance with the original Scherzo and the Finale. Hellmesberger’s quartet finally played it (Scherzo and all) in May 1885.

The Intermezzo has the same trio as the Scherzo which it originally replaced, and its genial directness conveys the mood of the Austrian Ländler. It has been even more neglected than the Quintet and there is no record of a public performance before 1904.

from notes by John Mayhew © 1994

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