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Dora PEJAČEVIĆ (1885-1923)
Piano Quintet in B minor, Op. 40 (1915-18) [33:14]
String Quartet in C major, Op. 58 (1922) [32:49]
Piano Quartet in D minor, Op. 25 (1908) [21:05]
Impromptu, op.9b (1903) [3:43]
Oliver Triendl (piano)
Quatuor Sine Nomine (Patrick Genet, François Gottraux, Hans Egidi, Marc Jaermann)
rec. Schweizer Radio, DRS2, Alte Kirche, Boswil, Switzerland, 24-27 September 2009. CPO 777 421-2 [33:14 + 57:40]
A first recording of Dora Pejačević's substantial Symphony in F sharp minor and her Phantasie Concertante for piano and orchestra was released in 2011 by CPO (review), the first of what is already on the way to becoming a substantial discography devoted to this highly deserving composer's works: CPO promise in fact to "dedicate a comprehensive edition to her."
As a Croat, Pejačević is fortunate to have her music promoted by the Croatian Music Information Centre, co-sponsors of this CD. The MIC has published some of her scores, as well as a detailed online biography in English, which includes poignant extracts from private correspondence, several short samples of her music and a presumably complete list of works, which sadly stops at op.58: Pejačević died in her prime from complications arising from the birth of her first child after marrying in her mid-thirties.
Another recent recording by CPO of Pejačević's Piano Trio op.29 and her Cello Sonata op.35 (review), both featuring Swiss cellist Christian Poltéra, revealed her to be a composer of radiant, passionate, supremely lyrical works. Pejačević's ear for exquisite, complementary lines and her attention to detail are central to her undeniable originality.
Oliver Triendl was the fine pianist on that recording, and he provides the continuity for this second volume of chamber works, a recital that picks up precisely where the first left off. The two Quartets and especially the Quintet are all major works belonging in the repertoire - any admirer of the chamber music of Saint-Saëns, Brahms or Franck will be thrilled by them. Even the little Impromptu op.9b should be in every piano quartet's repertory as an encore piece - short, moving, instantly likeable and written by a teenage countess.
Though not brilliant - Switzerland-based recordings rarely seem to be - sound quality is good enough to satisfy most ears. The highly experienced Sine Nomine Quartet, celebrating thirty elegant years in the business, are prone to heavy breathing, but as they are in all other respects good value for money as always, it is relatively easy to forgive.
If there is one unanswerable criticism of this release, it is the fact that CPO have used two CDs to give the listener ninety minutes' worth of music - necessary and reasonable enough in itself, but thereupon doubling the retail price, leaving the consumer feeling decidedly overcharged. Postponing the Piano Quartet - or better still, the String Quartet - for a future release would have given a still-generous timing at half the price.