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CD, MP3, FLAC: Pristine Audio

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op 25 (1861) [38:33]
Piano Quartet No. 2 in A major Op 26. (1862) [41:20]
Trio Santoliquido with Bruno Giuranna (viola)
rec. 1958, Beethoven-Saal, Hanover

Experience Classicsonline

This is an eminently worthwhile thing to restore to the catalogue. Matters are sometimes confused because the Trio Santoliquido with violist Bruno Giuranna was occasionally known as the ‘Quartetto di Roma’ and so a small degree of caution is necessary if you have LP incarnations that have them thus.

These two Brahms performances are early DG stereos made in the Beethoven-Saal, Hanover, in 1958. XR has been employed to round ‘up and down’ so that the sonority generated by the ensemble now sounds fuller in the bass and with a slight degree more body in the upper frequencies.

With their habitual fine rapport and ensemble strengths – Giuranna was always a splendid violist – both performances unfold with great warmth and sensitivity. Tempo decisions are invariably backed up by appropriate surety of execution and there is a canny control of individual and corporate bow weight in the Intermezzo of the G minor – to take one example of their subtlety of expression. Here they even bring Italianate warmth to the music-making, the wristier, colouristic playing offering generosity and breadth of lyric flow. Again their sound isn’t too saturated in the slow movement, and the structural complexities of the finale are well handled; nothing too abrupt or discursive goes on.

They take a more obviously lyric approach to the companion A major than a number of ensembles but this approach also includes a fair degree of sheer elegance of phrasing. The Trio Santoliquido was a nuanced ensemble and with Giuranna a fully integrated member there is plenty of balance on show; legato is a given, and the result is a reading of rewardingly lyric execution, though one with a strong spine.

Record buyers of the time were not starved of fine performances of the piano quartets. Members of the Hollywood Quartet with Victor Aller made their celebrated LPs: Testament SBT 3063 - a 3 CD round up which includes all three of the Piano Quartets, the second String Quartet and Schumann’s Piano Quintet. The 78s of the Busch and the Pro Arte had set high historic standards pre-War, and these early stereos set an appropriately high standard at the end of the 1950s and the stereo era.

Jonathan Woolf
























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