BRAHMS. SCHUMANN. MAHLER
Daniel Hope, Violin et al
Deutsche Grammophon 479 4609 / ****1/2
The piano quartet, formed by piano, violin, viola and cello, runs the risk of becoming almost obsolete. That is because many composers opt for the smaller and more economical forces of a piano trio, or plump for the fuller sounds of a piano quintet. This well-filled disc from live concerts of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centre gathers three of the best piano quartets in the medium’s relatively small repertoire.
Gustav Mahler's Piano Quartet in A minor (1876) is a student work in a compact single movement. A far cry from his monumental symphonies, it is a product of late Romanticism with full-blown passion and pathos on display. Robert Schumann's Piano Quartet in E flat major (1842) is shorter and less well-known than his Piano Quintet. There is a Beethovenian touch with its masterly development of simple themes, and is graced by an exquisitely beautiful slow movement.
Johannes Brahms's Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor (1861) is an established classic, symphonic in scope and closes with a rowdy Hungarian-styled Rondo in the best gypsy tradition. British violinist Daniel Hope and his partners, violist Paul Neubauer, cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, are vividly recorded, making this album one to remember and treasure.