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Andrew Palmer
Group Editor
12:00 AM 29th June 2024
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Review

Classical Music: Brahms & Contemporaries, Vol. 1

 
Brahms & Contemporaries, Vol. 1

Johannes Brahms Piano Quartet No. 2 in A major, Op. 26; Luise Adolpha Le Beau Piano Quartet in F minor, Op. 28

Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective
Elena Urioste violin, Rosalind Ventris viola, Laura van der Heijden cello and Tom Poster piano

Chandos CHAN 20297

chandos.net

Yet another imaginative recording project from the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective that juxtaposes piano quartets by Brahms with ones by his lesser-known contemporaries. This first volume pairs Brahms' 1861 Piano Quartet No. 2 with Luise Adolpha Le Beau's Op. 28 in F minor.

Le Beau was born in 1850 in Rastatt, Baden, and had a fine pedigree of teachers: Clara Schumann, Franz Lachner, and Josef Rheinberger.

Despite having to deal with the misogynist world of nineteenth-century Germany, Le Beau has a litany of compositions to her name, and on this disc, we hear a composer who writes assertively and attractively for the combination of violin, viola, cello, and piano.

There are several lovely moments: the strings in the opening adagio, the piano’s presence in the second movement, a warmth in playing, pleasing harmonics, and the use of the cyclic form, where the opening material reappears at the end. One never quite feels that Le Beau has dropped you off at your destination, although, as Nicholas Marston acknowledges in his excellent notes, the work was first performed in the Leipzig Gewandhaus to ‘great critical acclaim; indeed, Julius Riedel, who was responsible for concerts in that venue, told her that her success eclipsed any he had known there.’

Completed in 1861, Brahms' Piano Quartet No. 2 bears the strong influence of Schubert. Lasting almost fifty minutes, it is one of the most substantial piano quartets in the repertoire.

There are many excellent moments in the Brahms, especially when the musicians capture the pensive mood and his delightful harmony with sublimely adroit playing, sensitive phrasing, and a pleasing timbre.

Overall, it is a decent interpretation, although there are moments, especially in the first movement, that didn’t quite gel and on the whole didn’t spark.