The Acht Klavierstücke
of Op 5 are beautifully shaped, understated, passionate and tender by turns, yet they avoid sentimentality. They are conceived as one form, keys alternating between minor and major, No 1 in C sharp minor linked to No 8, likewise in C sharp minor, but ending with a minor/major oscillation to mirror the work’s structure. There are many such structural links between the pieces: the middle section of No 8 is an A major version of the opening of No 1, the coda a quaver alternative of No 1’s opening semiquaver theme. No 5 in E flat major ends in a suspended B flat, resolving, attacca, into No 6’s E flat minor. The Langsamer ending of this piece recalls the major opening of No 5—doubling the values of the opening left-hand octaves. Many emotional nuances inflect these charming offerings. However, the German influence is undoubted—Schubertian, perhaps, in No 3, Brahmsian overall. D’Albert had already worked on the Paganini Variations and the D minor Concerto. Brahms had published his Op 76 Intermezzi and Capricci in 1879, and his Op 79 Rhapsodies in 1880—these were undoubtedly known to and played by d’Albert and their influence is fairly obvious.
from notes by Piers Lane © 1997