Occasionally I get asked to play the organ in our local church. Firstly I am (or was) a pianist and secondly, sadly I never learnt to play the organ properly so I play it as a pianist. As such I know they are desperate when they ask me - I am one step better than nothing! My main problem is that with a busy life I perhaps don't practice the hymns as best I could, meaning, I have to concentrate rather hard, infact I concentrate so hard that after 3 verses more often than not, I have lost count. This results is a "one more please" or the congregation stand and wait patiently for me to realise they have finished and I come to a suitable end.
I am not going to recommend any organ music. Whilst I love it, I can also see that a little bit goes a long way. You should just know that the organ is the King of Instruments and is also the most difficult instrument you can play. It usually has a minimum of two manuals (keyboards) and on the big organs there can be four as well as stops which you push and pull for different sounds. As if that isn't enough there is a keyboard with white and black notes for your feet. It takes multi-tasking to a new level. So just have a bit of respect for your organist even if they do play too many verses!
So continuing with the spring theme the work I have chosen this week is the - Piano Quintet in A major by Schubert, or better known as The Trout Quintet. Chamber music can be rather harder to appreciate due to its intense sound but the Trout Quintet is just delightful. Schubert wrote a huge amount of chamber music and this is his best known work.
He composed it in 1819 when he was 22 years old but it wasn't published until 1829, a year after his death. Rather than the usual piano quintet line up of piano plus two violins, a viola and cello, this quintet is scored for piano plus violin, viola, cello and double bass. The work is known as the Trout because the fourth movement is a set of variations on Schubert's earlier Lied (song) "Die Forelle" (The Trout).
The work was written for Sylvester Paumgartner of Steyr in Upper Austria, a wealthy music patron and amateur cellist who suggested that Schubert include a set of variations on the lied.
The recording I am going to recommend is performed by the Schubert Ensemble.
The Trout Quintet is coupled with the beautiful Piano Trio in Bb major. This was written in the last year of Schuberts' life and is an unusually large scale work for piano trio. On this recording you can download the Trout Quintet on it's own should you so wish.
Listen to the fourth movement of the Trout Quintet played by the Schubert Ensemble on youtube
Download from iTunes
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