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Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
The Young Richard Strauss
Piano Trio No. 2 in D Major (1878) [28:54]
Piano Quartet Op. 13 in C minor (1884) [37:30]
Münchner Klaviertrio
Tilo Widenmeyer (viola)
rec. 2017, Bruno-WalterSaal, Staatsoper München
GENUIN GEN18496 [66:29]

I have been listening to a lot of Richard Strauss’ chamber music recently, indeed, ever since I reviewed his Violin Sonata on another Genuin disc (GEN 18401) I have listened to his complete early chamber music, a part of his output which is too often overlooked.

The disc opens with the D Major Piano Trio which, although composed around the same time as the A Major Piano Trio, is far more accomplished. While his first Trio was influenced by the classical models of Haydn and Mozart, this Trio is more akin to that of Schumann and, to some extent, Brahms, being a much bolder work than the earlier Trio, its large scale and technically demanding passages belying the composer’s tender age of fourteen. This performance by the Münchner Klaviertrio is a lot slower overall than my other recording by Anna Kandinskaya, Sebastian Hess and Wolfgang Sawallisch (Brilliant 9231) by nearly five minutes. Whilst the Sawallisch recording exemplifies the exuberance of youth, this new recording serves more to bring out the accomplishments of the young composer.

The Piano Quartet, with its understated opening few bars before the piano introduces the brighter and more romantic theme, is one of my favourite of all Strauss’ early chamber pieces. Whilst it does not compete with the Violin Sonata for sheer originality, it shows a clear stylistic development from the earlier piano trios. This impressive Brahmsian piece won a prize organised by the Berlin Tonküstler Verine and was dedicated to Prince George II of Sachsen-Meiningen. The performance of the Münchner Klaviertrio and Tilo Widenmeyer is marginally quicker than the one led by Wolfgang Sawallisch (9231), but this results in no loss of concentration or ensemble and it is the Munich-based players who come out on top in this highly charged performance.

This is a highly rewarding release, which clearly shows the progression of Richard Strauss the composer and which any self-respecting Straussian will relish. Strauss is clearly evident in patches of this music, especially in the piano writing of the Piano Quartet, and the Münchner Klaviertrio bring this out expertly. The booklet notes by Dr. Stefana Titeica are excellent and give background detail to these compositions; the recorded sound is also clear and detailed.

Stuart Sillitoe

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