Piano Quintet (Franck)

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César Franck's Piano Quintet in F minor is a quintet for piano, 2 violins, viola, and cello. The work was composed in 1879 and has been described as one of Franck's chief achievements alongside his other late works such as Symphony in D minor, the Symphonic Variations, the String Quartet, and the Violin Sonata.[1]

The work was premiered with Camille Saint-Saëns playing the piano part, which Franck had written out for him with an appended note: "To my good friend Camille Saint-Saëns". A minor scandal ensued when at the piece's completion, Saint-Saëns walked off stage leaving the score open at the piano, a gesture which was interpreted as mark of disdain.[2]

The work has been described as having a "torrid emotional power", and Édouard Lalo characterized it as an "explosion".[2] Other critics have been less positively impressed: Roger Scruton has written of the quintet's "unctuous narcissism".[3]


There are three movements:

  1. Molto moderato quasi lento - Allegro
  2. Lento con molto sentimento
  3. Allegro non troppo ma con fuoco

The music has a cyclical character whereby a motto theme of two four-bar phrases, used 18 times in the first movement, recurs at strategic point later in the work.[1]


  1. ^ a b Basil Smallman (1996). The Piano Quartet and Quintet: Style, Structure, and Scoring. Oxford University Press. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-19-816640-5. 
  2. ^ a b James M. Keller (2011). Chamber Music: A Listener's Guide. Oxford University Press. pp. 200–. ISBN 978-0-19-538253-2. 
  3. ^ Spencer, Piers (2009). "The Aesthetics of Music by Roger Scruton. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997. £35.00, 530 pp". British Journal of Music Education. 15 (2): 216. doi:10.1017/S0265051700009384. 

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