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Richard Strauss: Piano Quartet Op. 13; Cello Sonata Op. 6; Capriccio String Sextet

Strauss / Coelho
Release Date: 07/12/2011 
Label:  Praga   Catalog #: 250275   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Miguel Borges CoelhoMichal KankaVladimir FortinPetr Holman
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

R. STRAUSS Piano Quartet in c; 1 Cello Sonata in F 1,2; Capriccio: String Sextet 3 Pražák Qrt; 1 Miguel Borges Coelho (pn); 2 Michal Kanka (vc); 3 Zemlinsky Qrt members PRAGA 250275 Read more (SACD: 75:00)

This SACD aims to juxtapose Richard Strauss’s early chamber music against the masterly String Sextet that functions as an instrumental prelude to his last opera, Capriccio . Strauss was a child prodigy, but the Piano Quartet and Cello Sonata reflect the influence of Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Schumann more than they look forward to the tone poems and operas that would follow ( Don Juan exploded onto the musical world four years after the Piano Quartet). Both of these youthful chamber works sound more assured than Macbeth . Strauss’s already prodigious technique is perhaps comparable to Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s String Quartet No.1 (composed in his early 20s), but Korngold had already reached his stylistic maturity as evidenced by the frequent dissonances and highly chromatic writing. Nevertheless, the Piano Quartet and Cello Sonata are charming and very accessible works, even if you may not be able to identify the composer and they can hardly match the exquisite beauty of the String Sextet from Capriccio . There are some flights of soaring Straussian lyricism and a seemingly clear reference to Tristan in the Piano Quartet. These performances are impeccable in every conceivable way, as they emphasize the romantic aspects of the music.

The SACD sound is very mellow and mellifluous, but not quite ideal for chamber music because the larger-than-life instruments are miked too closely in a way that detracts from the music’s intimacy. Despite the close aural perspective, the instruments are also blended to the point where they create a congealed effect in music that would benefit from more clarity. To put it another way, this recording is the polar opposite of the lean intensity of the Emerson Quartet’s Beethoven string quartets (Deutsche Grammophon) sonically and interpretively. These are relatively minor quibbles when you hear this well-executed program that presents a different side of the composer of the lush and extravagant tone poems, to say nothing of Salome and Elektra.

FANFARE: Arthur Lintgen
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Piano and Strings in C minor, Op. 13 by Richard Strauss
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1883-1884; Germany 
Venue:  Lichtenstein Palace Martinu Hall (Hamu), 
Length: 37 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Sonata for Cello and Piano in F major, Op. 6 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Miguel Borges Coelho (Piano), Michal Kanka (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880-1883; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/20/2011 
Venue:  Lichtenstein Palace Martinu Hall (Hamu), 
Length: 25 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Capriccio, Op. 85: Prelude by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Vladimir Fortin (Cello), Petr Holman (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1940-1941; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/23/2011 
Venue:  Lichtenstein Palace Martinu Hall (Hamu), 
Length: 10 Minutes 54 Secs. 

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