Salon des oubliés: The chamber and choral music of German composer Friedrich Kiel

I kept bumping into the name of German composer and teacher Friedrich Kiel in the course of doing some recent research around Victorian composers and who their teachers were.

Born in 1821 and already court conductor to one of the many pre-German-unification princes by age 18, Kiel taught at Berlin’s Hochschule für Musik (Conservatory) from its founding in 1870 until his accidental death in 1885.

From what little is easily available for sampling, it sounds like Kiel was aesthetically conservative, writing music that owes more to Beethoven and Schubert than to pushing boundaries. It is music with elegant proportions, structured with great skill.

Of the three piano quartets I’ve had a chance to listen to, the four-movement second, written in 1867, appeals to me the most. Here it is, played by Ulrike-Anima Mathe, Hariolf Schlichtig, Xenia Jankovic and Oliver Triendl:

Two recordings accessible through the Naxos website feature Kiel’s first two piano quintets and a Missa Solemnis.

Here is the Mass, filled with impressive contrapuntal writing recorded in 1998 by Cologne Radio Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Helmut Froschauer:

For dessert, here is a miniature Andante in memory of Vincenzo Bellini, delicately played by Francesco Nicolosi:

John Terauds


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