This recording encompasses works from Strauss' early and late years. In fact some 60 years separate the Piano Quartet, written in 1884, the year after Wagner's death and the 'Metamorphosen', which dates from the early months of 1945.
The Quartet is sometimes criticised for its Brahmsian sound, particularly in the opening of the first movement, but as the piece progresses, Strauss' abundant talent and promise come strongly to the fore. True, its small scale harmonic effects and rather loose construction tend to obstruct the composer's precocity, but all the same, it is an enjoyable work, full of dramatic dimension and a sincerely expressive sound of spontaneous fervour.
The 'Capriccio' Prelude and 'Metamorphosen' are superb works, overflowing with a fecundity that matches Strauss's most intimate feelings, but if played at fever pitch, they would risk losing their impact.
The Nash Ensemble despatch the quartet with affectionate enthusiasm but their over zealous touch in the other two pieces almost puts them off track. All in all, this issue is a pleasant curiosity, particularly the 'Metamorphosen' which derives from a draft that came to light in 1990, and which preceded the more famous 23 solo-strings version. Sound and documentation are impeccable.
Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech