CLASSICAL RECORDS

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Hans Pfitzner: String Quartets in D Minor & C Sharp Minor. Franz Schubert Quartet (CPO, CD). The number of British listeners who know these pieces can probably counted on not many hands. Pfitzner has never excited interest in this country; and given the time it took for his most conspicuously celebrated score, the opera Palestrina, to get a full professional staging here (written in 1915; premiered at Covent Garden earlier this year) it's not surprising that his chamber works, which aren't exactly repertoire even in Germany, have never filtered into British consciousness.

Conservative to a degree, their late, late Brahmsian spirit never caught the wind of fashion. And although Conservative also equals Tuneful, the cut of Pfitzner's melodies aren't quite Classic FM. Impasse. All of which makes this disc a welcome curiosity, especially as it comes from musicians with a pedigree in Pfitzner's work. About a year ago they issued a recording of his other two quartets - made for the same, German CPO label (distributed in the UK by Select) - and it was a joy. This new release is nothing less: a fit companion, played with transparent beauty and discriminating care. Even the more `practiced' Pfitzner gestures come alive with freshness. And you can't ask more from an interpreter than that he makes a score sound better than it should. Michael White

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