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Austrian in America

CPO 777329-2

Franz Mittler

String Quartet #1 in F Major (1909)
String Quartet #3 in D minor (1915-1918)

Hugo Wolf Quartet
CPO 777329-2 55:38

Franz Mittler, poet, humorist, composer, pianist, concert accompanist was born in Vienna, and came to America in 1939. He studied composition with Joseph Labor, Richard Heuberger and and he performed with the Rosé quartet and as a concert song accompanist.

This recording of string quartets is performed with great spirit and humor by the Hugo Wolf String Quartet (Sebastian Gürtler and Régis Bringolf, violins; Gertrud Weinmeister, viola; Florian Berner, violoncello).

The First Quartet is a poignant, melodic, Late Romantic and mature-sounding work by a sixteen year old boy! There are nods to Schumann and Mendelssohn (especially the Scherzo).

The Third Quartet is a musical wartime walking-tour of the waning Austro-Hungarian Empire written while the composer was a soldier. The four movements depict four of the many different nationalities that formed the Empire: Wolhynien, (now in Ukraine), a Serbian scherzo, a Styrian andante and a dashing Hungarian Rhapsody finale.

This CPO quartet disc sent me scurrying to find more pieces by Franz Mittler. I discovered a privately recorded disc with several wonderful selections performed by the Con Brio Ensemble, among them, the beautiful Piano Trio op. 3. Further examination revealed that the pianist in this recording is Diana Mittler, daughter of the composer. Furthermore, there is a Preiser (PR90567) disc with songs, performed by Wolfgang Holzmair and Russell Ryan, the same performance of the Piano Trio, and three charming piano pieces. The disc has been discontinued, but a bit of sleuthing could turn it up.

The sheet music for Mittler's First String Quartet has just been published by Edition Silvertrust in a beautiful edition, and there are plans to publish the Second Quartet and the Piano Trio later this year.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]