Review: Teeny bopper talent
Schubert Ensemble London Wigmore Hall
Monday 30 March 1998
We were presented with even more precocity in Mendelssohn's Piano Quartet No. 3, op.3, produced when the composer was a hardened veteran of 15. The brooding first movement recalled the Mahler but from the lyrical Andante onwards, Mendelssohn's gift for the light fantastic and his youthful energy were much to the fore.
Brahms was only 28 when he wrote his second Piano Quartet, and seems to have been in sunny mood at the time. This massive piece is virtually a symphony in disguise, and has many a pre-echo of later and better-known music. The piano's opening fanfare-like figure leads on to characteristic three-against-two workings, contrasted with the expansive second theme, and all is brought to a convincing conclusion in time for a radiant slow movement, played here with infectious rapture, where Brahms's lilting lullaby manner gives way to greater passion, led by the piano. The pleasant intermezzo-like Scherzo gives way to a rumbustious finale reminiscent of the Hungarian Rhapsodies, brought off with great panache and assurance by the Schubert Ensemble; a haunting Song Without Words of Eric Korngold made a fitting conclusion to this cheering programme of young men's music.
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