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
, 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