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Brahms, Schumann, Mahler: Piano Quartets. Deutsche Grammophon CD
It was recorded live in March this year at a recital in Alice Tully Hall, New York, for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centre.
Quartet in A minor by 16-year-old Mahler, probably from a complete work that appears lost except for this 12-minute fragment, opens the disc with post-Brahmsian feeling, played with due brooding fervour and emotion.
It is a fascinating introduction to two great romantic piano quartets: Schumann's Quartet in E flat major.
Op.47 and Brahms' Quartet in G minor Op.25. The first, written in 1842, is beautifully melodic.
Playing like a professional quartet that has been together for years, the group combines the right joy and verve in the fast movements with all necessary introspection and emotion needed in slow ones.
Schumann's work was much admired by Brahms, who composed his quartet between 1856 and 1861.
It is a work much darker, brooding and angry at times, with a turbulence and fragments of melodies adding to its musical drama.
(Its modernist touch captured Schoenberg, who orchestrated it in 1937).
Performances and their recording must be highly recommended.
The piano, central in a wide soundstage of detailed recording, has a touch of reverb that provides nice warmth of tone, while the string instruments are all beautifully balanced to make this a sublime concert to sit back and enjoy.
For once any coughs from the audience seem to have been filtered out - not the due cheers at the end!
Verdict: Treat for chamber music fans.