FAURÉ PIANO QUARTET, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah, Feb. 22
The Fauré Piano Quartet made its first appearance at a Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City concert Wednesday – and hopefully this won’t be its last. Playing an ambitious program the group exhibited technical mastery of their respective instruments, impeccable musicality and wonderful collaborative acumen. The four are certainly equal partners, their playing was balanced – something that doesn’t happen too often even among seasoned collaborators. In fact, they played as if they were one instrument.
They opened with Joseph Suk’s Piano Quartet in A minor, op. 1. This is an early work of the composer who was to become Antonin Dvorak’s son-in-law. But even though it was written when Suk was still a teenager, the quartet shows remarkable maturity in the manner in which he develops his themes, in its scope and in the depth of its expressions.
It’s a well written piece that was played well by the foursome, who dove straight into the opening movement with impassioned playing that captured the intensity and drive of the music.
The slow movement opens with a lovely solo for cello with soft chordal accompaniment in the piano. This was beautifully played by cellist Konstantin Heidrich before the melody moves to the violin. Violinist Erika Geldsetzer played it with wonderfully crafted and modulated expressions.
The music gradually builds towards a dramatic climax, which the four handled with refined playing that was never exaggerated, before it subsides and ends as dreamily as it began.
The finale was played with an exuberance that captured its youthful spirit and character. It was delightfully vibrant and effusive.
The Suk was paired with Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet in C minor, op. 15. The ensemble brought depth and insight to their intelligent account. They actually allowed the music to speak for itself, which is essential to this work. Their reading was nuanced and expressive, and they showed how gorgeously lyrical their playing can be – they put their considerable interpretative skills on display.
After intermission, the group played Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quartet in G minor, op. 25, with the famous gypsy rondo finale. They gave an impassioned account that was tinged with darkness and a subtle earnestness. They brought feeling and a broad palette of expressions to their playing that served the music well. And the finale was fast and furious and, more importantly, well articulated and executed.
As a finale, they played the last movement from Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Quartet in F minor, op. 2. The music is typically Mendelssohnian in its lightness, and the four played it with fluid and airy phrasings that brought this to the fore.