Wednesday 2 September 2015

Gramophone: Brahms Piano Quartet no.1 - Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra/ Marc Albrecht



"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."

Our latest release of “Brahms Piano Quartet no.1” with Marc Albrecht and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra has received another wonderful review from Gramophone! Below you can find the kind review about this album.

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.

[ Listen to it it here: ]

 

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.

For all that Schoenberg took himself seriously and, more importantly, expected everyone around him to do the same, he had a nice line in self-deprecating humour which differentiated his ego from, say, that of Mahler, whom he had observed at close quarters. Mockery rather than ignorance of the Hollywood scene may have motivated the ridiculous demands he made when MGM asked for some film music: his attitude had always been that his music would come first, as it did in the suffocated expressionism of the Begleitungsmusik from 1930, where we must run a Fritz Lang-style reel through our own minds. Pentatone and Albrecht make the effort easier than the erstwhile EMI engineers for Rattle, bringing the piano forwards in the mix and saturating the colour of each musical event with impressively disciplined playing, if at the expense of imagined psychological depth and a long line through the work's development from threat to catastrophe.

Peter Quantrill