Rhinegold

Colin Clarke

Harmonia Nova: 4 Works by Schumann, Berg, Kurtág

8:00, 22nd November 2017

Quartet Gerhard
Harmonia Mundi HMN916108
*****

A young Berlin-based group of Catalan musicians, Quartet Gerard offers a perfectly judged programme as part of Harmonia Mundi’s Harmonia Nova series. The inclusion of a Schumann Quartet (Op 41/3) is significant in itself, as Schumann’s chamber music remains to this day inexplicably underrated. More, they capture the ideal balance of warmth and linear clarity this music demands.
The Berg Lyric Suite receives an affectionate performance, clearly impeccably prepared. The Leipzig Quartet on MDG provides a yardstick here, and if Quartet Gerhard is less all-encompassing of the range of Berg’s expression, it nevertheless provides a completely convincing experience in context; intriguingly, the players often seem to be searching for hints of the dance in Berg’s score. Finally, Kurtág’s post-Webernian, elusive sequence of 15 Gestures, an in memoriam of exquisite pain performed here with all the requisite concentration required. This is a vitally important disc.

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