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Piano Quintets

By Toivo Kuula

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Composed by Toivo Kuula, Amy Marcy Beach (1867-1944), and Ernest Bloch (1880-1959). Recording mediums. CD. Duration 74' 58''. MDS (Music Distribution Services) #EDA 3. Published by MDS (Music Distribution Services) (M7.EDA-3).

Item Number: M7.EDA-3

In its very first thematic series (released in the 1990s), eda records dedicated itself to presenting a total of six recordings in the piano quintet genre, many of which were the first to ever be recorded worldwide. The Finnish-German PIHITPUDAS KVINTETTI (Pihtipudas Piano Quintet), artistic partners of eda records in this project, is the only professional chamber ensemble to date which works exclusively in this line-up. In 2013, it celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding. Since then, the renowned formation hasn't just focused on the main pieces in its repertoire - far from it. Instead, it has dedicated much of its activity to unearthing a wide variety of little-known and forgotten works, thus enriching the piano quintet genre with its discoveries and recordings in a highly original manner. This second release in the Pihtipudas Kvintetti series presents two quintets originating from the US which couldn't be more different - but which can each be considered grandiose, essential works in this genre. When Bloch wrote his Piano Quintet No. 1 in 1923, he had already been living in the USA for seven years, having moved there after losing his professorship in Geneva amidst political intrigue. In his new homeland, he composed the works which he is best known for today, which focused on his Jewish roots and ethnic pride. His quintet hails from the end of this period and forms the transition into the neo-classical phase of Bloch's work. A characteristic piece from this new stylistic direction, it spills over from a wide range of styles and techniques, and even dares to venture into the domain of quarter-tone music. This opulent work is held together by both a formal sternness in all four movements, as well as by the remarkable fact that Bloch accumulated virtually all of its thematic material from a single motif. Moreover, its vehement rhythmic power makes this monolith a unique composition to this very day.Amy Beach was one of the greatest musical Wunderkinder of the New World and was held in high regard as both a composer and a virtuoso on the piano. In fact, she taught herself how to compose, which never hurt her fabulous career - not even in Europe. The quintet made its debut in February 1908 (with Beach herself on piano) and quickly became one of the most popular works in its genre. The piece bears many of the traits which were characteristic of Amy Beach's mid-period compositions. It combines the expressive, virtuosic handling of the piano, stretched-out melodic lines and great emphasis on chromatics with austere use of instrumentation, steady development and handling of the motif-based material, as well as her ability to lend the work clear, formal breaks in spite of its highly Romantic approach.The Scherzo in F-major of Finnish composer Toivo Kuula was discovered by the performers at the Helsinki University Library and recorded based on the manuscript. Kuula's auspicious career - a generous state scholarship sent him to the Continent to continue his studies - was ended abruptly by his early death in the Finnish Civil War in 1918. A violinist himself, he loved stringed instruments and chamber music, and dedicated much of his work to the folk music of his homeland. In his compositions, he strove to synthesise the immediacy of traditional music with a pronounced, emotional subjectivity and passion. This early scherzo's combination of seemingly familiar melodies with venturesome harmonies makes it clear how extraordinary talented he was.

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