Magazine article Gramophone

Furtwangler: Piano Quintet

Magazine article Gramophone

Furtwangler: Piano Quintet

Article excerpt

Furtwangler [R]

Piano Quintet Clarens Quintet

Tacet (F) [BR] TACET B119 (80' * 24-bit/96kHz 5.1 & stereo) From TACET119

Furtwangler's father was an archaeologist who assisted Heinrich Schliemann in the uncovering (some would say imaginative reconstruction) of the temples at Olympia. During stretches of his Piano Quintet, I was cast back to a strange vision of university days, sitting in a lecture theatre while Schliemann's unearthly form mumbled his way through a slide-show of excavation reports, shards of clay and stone. 'Of ritual significance' was the term often applied (and now equally derided) when historical methods fell short.

And when the ghosts of Beethoven and Brahms and Bruckner emerge from the gloaming of the Piano Quintet, what might be their significance? The finale redevelops the First 'Razumovsky' Quartet's opening theme; in turn, the chromatic arch of the Adagio bears a more passing resemblance to Beethoven's 'theme russe' from the same Quartet. 'I am a tragic writer!' responded Furtwangler to one of the Quintet's early private listeners, and its subtext is plain. The why, the need for the work's existence, remains elusive. After making initial sketches in 1912, he took another 23 years to complete it: the wonder is that its three sprawling movements hang together as much as they do. …

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