WORKS: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 4
PERFORMER: Philharmonia Quartet, Berlin
CATALOGUE NO: CTH 2273 DDD (distr. RRD)
Since his centenary in 1994, barely a month has passed without a new release of music by Erwin Schulhoff, a Czech-German whose promising career as one of the most significant composers of the inter-war years was tragically halted by the Nazis in 1942. There is now even sizeable competition in recordings of a number of works, notably the string quartets, though the Petersen scores here with the only available account of an engrossing, early G major Quartet. None of the other, later works here communicate as immediately, despite the advocacy of fine players.
The Philharmonia Quartet comes up against more competition in Schulhoff’s highly attractive Quartet No. 1: the Petersen’s own 1993 Capriccio disc, the Schönberg Quartet on Koch Schwann and the Brandis Quartet on Nimbus (reviewed, January). The Thorofon disc gives woefully short measure for today (Hindemith is no compensation), yet the performance of the Schulhoff is one of the best so far. Anyone just discovering Schulhoff’s individual voice would do well by either of these discs, though, if it’s Quartet No. 1 you want, the Petersen’s earlier disc provides better value for money.