The Trout Quintet by Franz Schubert
Alina Ibragimova, Violin
Lawrence Power, Viola
Sol Gabetta, Cello
Uxia Martinez Botana, Contrabass
Bertrand Chamayou, Piano
Artist in Residence 2019
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Piano Quintet in A Major D 677 «Trout Quintet»
Performed on August 3, 2019 in the Saanen Church
Rather unusual forms of ensembles sometimes bring together great musicians to a remarkable unity. In this performance of Schubert’s Trout Quintet as well as the Piano Quintet in F Minor by César Franck, Alina Ibragimova, Charlotte Saluste-Bridoux, Lawrence Power, Sol Gabetta, Uxia Martinez Botana and Bertrand Chamayou share the stage inside the beautiful Saanen Church. Bertrand Chamayou, Artist in Residence of the Gstaad Menuhin Festival 2019, had earlier performances at the festival in 2014 with Schubert arrangements by Liszt as well as in 2016 with pieces by Ravel – this time, it’s the perfect opportunity to perform an important, but unfortunately not that often played work by his compatriot César Franck. The Trout Quintet of Franz Schubert is much better known. In contrast to Franck’s instrumentation with two violins, it consists of a classical string trio plus double bass, played by Uxia Martinez Botana in this performance.
Schubert based the for his Piano Quintet in A Major eponymous variation movement upon one of his own songs, “The Trout”. While the transformation of thematic material was characteristic for the variation technique of his contemporary Beethoven, Schubert demonstrated his musicianship in the almost unlimited decorating and «playing» with the thematic material. Another special feature: With every variation, the theme sounds in a different voice. The opening of that famous fourth movement is made by Bertrand Chamayou, followed by Lawrence Power and Sol Gabetta – for this very reason, the music appears in an ever-changing, colourful variety.
French chamber music in a state of exception
As a trained piano and organ player, César Franck received recognition above all for his organ works as well as his Symphony in D Minor, which had an enormous influence on the French music in the Romantic era – however, the Piano Quintet in F Minor also has a monumental character. While Schubert’s Trout Quintet ends in a highly cheerful and dance-like manner, Franck’s Piano Quintet first searches for its direction – to put it simply, the piece is not that catchy while listening to it for the first time. Contemporaries of Franck were in complete agreement that the piece even exceeded the legitimate boundaries of chamber music. The Piano Quintet certainly is not inconspicuous, but rather comes across with bold expressiveness: During the course of the three movements, the brilliance of the piece is revealed more and more clearly through innovative approaches to harmony as well as ingenious combinations of musical elements that at first seem to run in complete opposite directions.