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Hope | Han | Neubauer | Finckel - Piano Quartets / WQXR: Album Of the Week

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The piano quartet is perhaps the ultimate 19th century Germanic chamber form, famously tackled by Brahms and Schumann, as well as Mendelssohn and Saint-Saens. Sometimes ignored is Mahler's Piano Quartet, a youthful and aborted work that sounds far more polite than his tumultuous symphonies and fraught song cycles. But the teenaged work contains plenty of inspired moments and it sits well alongside the quartets of Schumann and Brahms. Here it's given a confident and expressive performance by the violinist Daniel Hope, violist Paul Neubauer, cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han (the latter two artists being artistic directors of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center).

Schumann's E-flat major Quartet shows the group's finely-etched sense of interplay, tossing phrases back and forth with care and nuance, particularly in the driven finale. Similarly, the musicians capture the brooding qualities of the Brahms quartet, right through to the gypsy-styled Rondo alla zingarese.

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