Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms: Brahms Piano Quartet No 1, Op 25

Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms: Brahms Piano Quartet No 1, Op 25

Article excerpt


Brahms Piano Quartet No 1, Op 25 (orch Schoenberg) Schoenberg Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene, Op 34

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra / Marc Albrecht

Pentatone (F)[SACD]. PTC5186 398 (5V * DDD/DSD)

The same label, conductor and orchestra recently produced a discreet and unmannered recording of Mahler's Fourth Symphony (6/15). Are those the qualities required by Schoenberg's Brahms? Marc Albrecht cultivates an orchestral blend plausibly akin to something Brahms might have done with the piece, whereas in Simon Rattle's recent recording Schoenberg is the dominant presence: the many doublings are carefully differentiated as if laid out in a handbook of orchestration.

Albrecht's tempi honour the scale of the original, the rhythms are nicely sprung and he uses the orchestration to mould the contrasting themes of each movement more than exaggerated shifts and transitions between them. He also does more than most to prevent the march at the centre of the Andante from sounding grotesquely inflated in Schoenberg's version - but resistance is useless. Every bar of the piece screams 1937, not 1861, and it is the very strangeness of both Schoenberg's idea and its execution that draws me towards the overblown folie de grandeur of Rattle's recording, so close to parody as makes no difference. …

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