LABELS: Black Box
WORKS: Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 13
PERFORMER: Lyric Piano Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: BBM 1048
Critical wisdom, backed up by a sober look at the score, brands the 20-year-old Richard Strauss’s Piano Quartet as one of those works where a young composer comes beneficially if slavishly under the influence of a great example – in this case Brahms, discovery of Strauss’s first sojourn in Berlin. The Lyric Piano Quartet works the miracle of making it a piece to enjoy in its own right. It’s all the more impressive a labour of love since none of the best moments rest with the main ideas, skilfully disposed and worked through as they may be. Instead, pianist Gerald Robbins slips in a flash of kingfisher blue between more conventional statements in the outer movements, pre-empting the wit of the piano-and-orchestra Burleske and Till Eulenspiegel by several years, while the codas of the scherzo and Andante glow with a sudden, rapturous originality.
This is certainly happy hunting-ground for violinist Glenn Dicterow, who as distinguished leader knows the orchestral solos from the tone poems well. Together with his colleagues he marries the old-fashioned virtues of portamento and warm vibrato to a quicksilver intelligence. The Turina is simply a parade of Spanish local-colour tunes in repetitious sequence; a lilting way with the melodies, assisted by the odd embellishment, makes sure it doesn’t outstay its welcome. But why the pylon graphics of the over-designed booklet I have no idea. David Nice