For many, Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major is the ultimate example of chamber music. It is scored for the typical string quartet (two violins, one viola, one cello), plus an additional cello. It is also his last chamber work, composed during his final year (1828) and finished just two months before his death. It’s first performance didn’t take place until 1850, but it quickly was recognized as a masterpiece and an early admirer was Brahms, whose Piano Quintet was inspired by Schubert’s piece. In fact, Brahms’ quintet started out as a string quintet and was changed later by replacing the second cello with a piano.
Let’s take a listen to Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F Minor. It definitely has a much tumultuous beginning, but as the piece unfolds one can certainly begin to hear the similarities.
There are many fine recordings of Schubert’s quintet, but here are the ones that I’ve always been drawn to, as well as some fantastic videos of performances you should watch.