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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
An Introduction to SCHUBERT’S Piano Quintet in A major ‘Trout’ D667
Performed by the Kodály Quartet with Jenó Jandó (piano) and István Tóth (double-bass)
Written and narrated by Jeremy Siepmann
recorded at Motivation Sound Studios, London, 2002
Naxos Educational Classics Explained Series
120 page booklet
NAXOS 8.558075-76 [2CDs: 2:24:32]


As Jeremy Siepmann proclaims, "Of all the great composers, Schubert was the most convivial and the most careless … inspired melody, coloured by hardly less inspired harmony, flowed from his pen as naturally as rivers flow into the sea." Yet this in-depth study of Schubert’s "Trout" Piano Quintet, surely proves the lie to the hoary old legend about Schubert rattling off compositions (admittedly smaller-scale compositions, especially songs, although the principle still holds true) on the backs of menus in coffee houses. Siepmann, in a 126-example, two-hour+ detailed analysis, shows just how much skill and sophistication went into what he describes as one of the "ultimate feel-good pieces"; a work that "as an anti-depressant … has few rivals".

The booklet commences with an introductory section sketching in the composer and the work. It covers the historical background including a description of Vienna in Schubert’s time, a biographical sketch of Schubert and ‘The Place and Importance of the "Trout" Quintet in Schubert’s output.’ The Analysis section has the spoken text of the analysis (very useful for detailed leisurely study), plus a structural overview and a detailed 13-page section on interpretation of the Quintet. If all this was not enough, this generous publication concludes with nearly forty pages devoted to the ‘Art of the Listener’ comprising: ‘Ways of Listening’, ‘What Music Is’, ‘What Music Is Not: Music and Snobbery’, ‘A Brief Guide to the Composer’s Tools’ , ‘The Basic Forms of Music’ and a ‘Glossary’.

Siepmann’s absorbing in-depth narration is delivered with humour and the lightest of touches, including, seamlessly, easy-to-grasp and vividly graphic explanations of technical terms. The performance of the Quintet is very good.

Ian Lace


see also review by Robert Hugill and Gary Higginson


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