Première rapsodie for Clarinet and Piano
Piano Quartet No.2 in A, Op.26
Lars Vogt (piano), Isabelle Faust (violin), Tatjana Masurenko (viola), Gustav Rivinius (cello) & Sharon Kam (clarinet)
Reviewed by: Kevin Rogers
Reviewed: 15 April, 2007
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
Brahms’s A major Piano Quartet is epic and yet, as this performance so splendidly confirmed, also so very intimate. It may not have the fire and thrill of its predecessor but offers refinement, contemplation and restrained drama. This performance made the case, if one were required, for the piece – glorious playing from Vogt and his “Friends” – wonderful interplay and superb balancing of dynamics; an aural pleasure.
The required weight for the first movement came from Gustav Rivinius whose presence, though non-forceful and certainly not leaden, anchored proceedings. The energetic moments had a splendid spine-tingling quality that owed much to the affinity between the players. Whilst not wallowing in unwarranted sentimentality, the slow movement was played spaciously; turbulent murmuring from Vogt and the full-blown intensity of the ensemble’s playing was captivating and the close was heart-aching. The scherzo showed how this group has an arching vision of the music: held back to begin with, like a cocked pistol, the tension let the furious sections explode in to life – extraordinary. In the final movement, Isabelle Faust, at last, showed off her armoury with some striking playing. The crescendos had excitement and the coda was reminiscent of a bubbling stream: flowing and persistent. Joyful!