Brentano String Quartet and Sarah Rothenberg Premiere Tobias Picker’s Piano Quintet in Houston
Da Camera Houston opens its season in grand fashion with the premiere of Tobias Picker’s Piano Quintet on September 23. Taking place at the Cullen Theater in Houston, the performance features the Brentano String Quartet with pianist and Da Camera artistic director Sarah Rothenberg rounding out the ensemble. Tobias Picker writes on his newest work:
We all grew up on the monumental piano quintets of the past – such thrilling music. But as I began to write a piano quintet myself, ‘the way in’ eluded me. I kept thinking, a piano and a string quartet need each other like a hole in the head. Why combine them anyway? I looked to the masters for inspiration and along the way became convinced that even they had grappled with this question. Perhaps it was no coincidence that Schumann, Brahms, Dvořák, Franck, Elgar, Shostakovich and Carter had each written only one. Finding my own answer was difficult and took a long time. When the answer finally came – it gave me great joy. My Piano Quintet reflects that joy as no other piece I’ve ever written has done.
Pianist Sarah Rothenberg adds:
Tobias has written us an impressively ambitious work which clearly takes into consideration the great 19th century tradition of piano quintets. It is passionate, virtuosic, dramatic and hauntingly moving. Given Tobias's personal history as a composer of opera and accomplished pianist himself, it is probably not surprising that the work has both a strong narrative shape as well as concerto-like, extremely idiomatic (although difficult!!) piano writing. But additionally there is something particularly personal about this work, romantic gestures heard through a jagged rhythmic disjunction; melodic shapes and harmonies that are both familiar and strange at the same time, as though transfigured and refracted through the prism of modern life.
I am thrilled to be giving both the world premiere and NY premiere of this work in the coming weeks- it is a real birthing process, and until that moment of performance with audience present, the piece does not yet fully exist. But already I feel this is a work that is taking on a life of its own, and the challenges of working on it have had their rewards for me.
Learn more on the program at www.dacamera.com.
Visit www.tobiaspicker.com and www.schott-music.com for more on the composer.
Piano Quintet (2011)
for piano and string quartet