Piano Quintet
Julian Wagstaff


My decision to write a piano quintet was made during a trip to the Aldeburgh Festival last June, where I heard the premiere of the quintet by Alexander Goehr performed by the Brodsky Quartet with Tom Poster. The choice of form was inspired partly by the experience of this concert, and partly by my wish to write a piano piece for my friend Alina Kolonitskaya, who gave the first performance of the piece in Edinburgh's Reid Hall. The quintet configuration lends itself in particular to what I wished to achieve with the work on a conceptual level, which was to explore certain harmonic gestures whose reference points lie within my own "spiritual home" of rock and theatre music, but to do so through formal structures associated with Western art music - in this case romanticism. In embarking on this, my first major work of concert music, I was guided by the old writer's imperative: "write what you know". I have not attempted to disguise points of contact with music from the repertoire which most moves, thrills and excites me, and therefore most listeners will have no difficulty in discerning to which giants the footprints which have guided me in this endeavour belong. The work is cast in three movements, the slow second movement contrasting with the more urgent nature of the first and third. The short introductory section which begins the work may be heard as a kind of cipher, a microcosm of the work as a whole, whose logic can be traced through the development of the first violinís thematic exposition in the first movement, through the harmonic and referential interplay of the second, to the anarchic rebellion at the end of the third, which culminates in the re-establishment of order - of a sort - in the parallel octaves which end the piece.

Instrumentation Genre Ensemble (no conductor)
Tag quintet
Collaborators Alina Kolonitskaya
Collaboration details Original soloist, to whom the work is dedicated.
Duration 20 minutes
Instrumentation Violin [2 players]; Viola [1 player]; Cello [1 player]; Piano [1 player]
Publisher Europa Edition

Performances of this work

Date Venue Performer Link
24/04/2003 (*premiére) University of Edinburgh Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK Link to online catalogue

New Music Scotland will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information to keep you updated with relevant new music (as defined on our website) news, events and invitations to submit information both by us and shared with us by the new music community.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices here.