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Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Piano Quartet in C minor, Op.13 (1885) [37:07]
Cäcilie, Op.27 No. 2 (1894) [2:12]
Die Nacht, Op.10 No. 3 (1885) [2:40]
Morgen, Op.27 No. 4 (1894) [4:14]
Zueignung, Op.10 No. 1 (1885) [1:26)
Heimliche Aufforderung, Op.27 No. 3 (1894) [3:18]
Allerseelen. Op.10 No. 3 (1885) [3:01]
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Piano Quartet in A minor (1876) [12:15]
Erinnerung (1880) [3:07)
Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen (1898) [7:29]
Songs transcribed for piano quartet by Dietrich Zollner
Simone Kermes (soprano)
Fauré Quartett
rec. 3-6 November 2013, Gustav Mahler-Saal, Toblach, Italy
SONY CLASSICAL 88843 023672 [76:53]

The Strauss Piano Quartet is the more substantial of the two pieces, and by that token is perhaps the most important part of this issue, taking up around half of its total duration. As with most of the composer’s earlier works, the construction and the style are frankly classical, but the strength of both the invention and the structure renders this a fine example of the young composer’s music.

Mahler’s Piano Quartet was written when he was just sixteen, though the accomplishment is such that it transcends any such youthful limitations. Originally scored for piano with two violins and viola, it is performed here for the standard piano quartet combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, with not a word of explanation in the booklet notes.

I have not been able to compare these recordings with the competition. For the Strauss there is the Ames on Dorian and Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Sinnhoffer on Brilliant Classics. As for the Mahler it has been recorded by Mats Jansson and Members of the Holmen Quartet on S imax, the Avery ensemble on Zephyr, the Prazak on Praga and the Eben on Arco Diva. In any event, none of these couple the two piano quartets.

The remainder of the disc is given over to chamber music re-scorings of various Strauss and Mahler songs. These have been skilfully undertaken by Dietrich Zollner and are nicely sung by Simone Kermes. The recorded sound too is sensitive to the nuances of the music. However, these indulgences may be fine in festival performances located in quasi-rural locations, but they are hardly competitive in terms of the recorded repertoire, when it is possible to listen to the composer’s own orchestrations or the piano originals.

Terry Barfoot