Frédéric d’Erlanger (1868-1943) and Thomas Dunhill (1877-1946) each wrote a Piano Quintet (respectively 1901 and 1904), both are in four movements (the firsts of which call for an exposition repeat) and last for around thirty-five minutes. Both are new to me and wonderful discoveries.
Frédéric Alfred d’Erlanger ('Baron Fred') was born in Paris to a German father and American mother. He came to London at an early age and stayed. By profession he was a banker, by inclination a patron of the arts, and through creativity a composer. His Quintet opens with a broad heroic theme, quite Brahmsian, music of endeavour, contrasted with lovely lyricism and light and shade. The slow movement is intimate and expressive, cue Dvořák, which is not to suggest that d’Erlanger doesn’t have a voice and personality of his own. He does. There follows a sparkling on-the-move Scherzo and an expansive and resolute Finale to crown this impressive and endearing work, which should also appeal to fans of Korngold.
A prolific composer, Londoner Thomas Dunhill’s C-minor Quintet is no-less fine, quite (Robert) Schumann-esque and at times anticipating Elgar’s ‘late’ chamber music; he’s his own man though, just breathing similar air. It’s a richly expressive piece full of ear-grabbing ideas that come from the heart – and go to it; plenty of liveliness, too.
I am smitten by these scores. The Potton Hall recordings (February 2019) are superb, ideally capturing the trusted partnership of Piers Lane and the Goldner Quartet—musicians who seem totally convinced of these works’ considerable worth. Hyperion CDA68296 (available from August 28) includes a booklet note by Lewis Foreman. The cover is an apt complement to the music.