R Strauss Piano Quartet; Piano Trio No. 2
Doren Dinglinger (violin), Tony Nys (viola), Alexandre Vay (cello), Daniel Blumenthal (piano)
CPO 555 116-2
Should chamber players keep on recording works from what the liner note calls the young Richard Strauss’s ‘whirlwind tour through the standard genres’? Frankly I’d rather spend time with Brahms’s great piano quartets than re-engage with Strauss’s only specimen, a 20 year-old’s homage to the master finished at the start of 1885. Still, if revisited it must be, it had best be done like this. Pianist Daniel Blumenthal is adept at switching from Brahmsian sweep to the pre-Till Eulenspiegel sparkle (to be fair, the wit also to be found in the next major work, the Burleske for piano and orchestra, is already there in the finale of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto). There’s sufficient unpredictability in the second-movement Presto, and the extra spring of the finale’s development to keep this performance very companionable, and the sound is rich as well as perfectly balanced.
Robust good humour seems to have been a hallmark of young Strauss, and it’s there throughout the D major Piano Trio of a well-behaved 13-year-old. The closer Strauss sticks to cheerful simplicity the better; the violin melody in the Andante cantabile and the cello’s singing in the trio of a very Mendelssohnian fairy scherzo, worth considering as a concert-hall encore, are beautifully done here.