Humorous Conversation – Gernsheim’s Piano Quintets
Following the release of two of Friedrich Gernsheim’s symphonies, we would now like to present to you two piano quintets by this composer whose life was very much of European stamp. He was born in Worms in 1839 and became the youngest student at the Leipzig Conservatory when he was thirteen. His further musical education took him to Paris, and in this European music center he enjoyed daily contact with the most famous musical personalities of his times, including Liszt, Saint-Saëns, and Rubinstein. Further stations included the post of city music director in Saarbrücken, six years as a professor and conductor in Cologne, and Rotterdam. He then spent the last fifteen years of his life in Berlin. His first Piano Quintet quite audibly moves along paths marked out by Brahms’s Piano Quintet in F minor, which had been composed only twelve years before. He composed his second Piano Quintet during the year of Brahms’s death. Gernsheim’s choice precisely of the key of B minor and 6 / 8 time for the first movement – just as in Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet – is certainly to be understood as a tribute to the late master. At the beginning of the scherzo Gernsheim also honored the Bohemian String Quartet, the quintet’s dedicatees; here, in Molto grazioso e sempre scherzando, the strings play a Bohemian theme of folk character over staccato runs. One can very well imagine how the brilliant pianist Gernsheim delightedly participated in humorous conversation with his Bohemian friends in this work!