Salon des oubliés: Theodor Kirchner a fine craftsman of small musical gems
I'm working on a personal performance project that has been leading me not to dusty shelves, but shelves squirreled away in rooms people have forgotten existed. So much of the music that has been forgotten is, frankly, forgettable.
But there are occasional surprises.
The biggest has been a German composer named Theodor Kirchner. He doesn't even figure in the latest editions of abridged new music reference books. I found this pithy entry in the 10th edition of the Oxford Companion to Music:
KIRCHNER, THEODOR (1823-1903). He was a German composer of the Schumann lineage. His songs and his piano works constitute his most notable contribution to the repertory.
There is a lot more to his personal story, but he very much lived in the shadow of Schumann and Brahms. His music sounds a lot like his friends', but everything I've seen has been impeccably crafted to the point of being eyebrow-liftingly cunning, once you get past the gorgeous surface.
I'm hoping to have more to contribute on him in the future. But, I want to leave an example first -- not a piano piece or some Lieder, but a late C-minor piano quartet, performed earlier this year for a series called Brahms und Freunde organized by Télévision de la Suisse romande.
Here are violinist Erzsébet Barnacz, violist Frédéric Carrière, cellist Brigitte Fatton, Violoncelle and pianist Birgit Frenk-Spilliaert (for the programme, they paired this quartet with Brahms' Op. 60, which is also in C-minor):