Hermann Goetz

Somewhere in the intersection of Schumann, Brahms, and Dvorák falls the music of the German composer Hermann Goetz, who might be better known in posterity if he had not died of tuberculosis four days short of his thirty-sixth birthday. Brahms admired his works so much that he recommended them to his own publisher. Goetz’s marvelous operatic setting of The Taming of the Shrew (Der widerspenstigen Zähmung) remained a staple of German opera houses for decades, though it is rarely revived today, and his 24 published works of chamber music are almost never performed. It’s a pity. The Piano Quartet in E-flat major (from 1867, and dedicated to Brahms) may be his instrumental masterpiece, by turns dreamy à la Schumann, jovial à la Dvoˇrák, or generously warmhearted à la Brahms, though not rivaling that composer’s philosophical depth, even if some passages come close. The Piano Quintet in C minor (from 1874, two years before Goetz died) is generally more anguished, touching on passionate outpourings that prefigure Franck in the opening movement, though without the Wagnerian influence. Its instrumentation is that of Schubert’s Trout Quintet — violin, viola, cello, double bass, and piano, played respectively by Marina Chiche, Peijun Xu, Niklas Schmidt, Matthias Beltinger, and Oliver Triendl. This international assemblage offers a carefully attentive, but nonetheless exciting, reading of two works that chamber music aficionados should readily embrace. 

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