Early Strauss

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 9

The best way to stump your music-loving friends in a round of “Guess the Composer” is by playing just about any of Richard Strauss’ youthful chamber works. They often resemble Mendelssohn or Weber, yet the young Strauss’ compositional craft is wonderfully assured and fluent. The D major Trio’s Scherzo, for example, is cut from the same melodic cloth as the Perpetuum mobile from Weber’s Piano Sonata No. 1, but goes its own way, while the C minor Piano Quartet’s sprawling opening movement hints at the sweeping rhetoric and harmonic twists that would eventually figure in Strauss’ mature tone poems.

The present performances yield little to others for expressive variety and ensemble polish, yet catalog competition remains strong. In the Quartet’s Scherzo movement, the CPO musicians sound relatively heavy-gaited next to the suppler scintillation of Ondine’s recording with pianist Ralf Gothoni. And in contrast to the Amelia Trio’s flowing animation in the D major Trio’s Schubertian slow movement on Naxos, CPO’s Daniel Blumenthal, Doren Dinglinger, and Alexandre Vay favor a brooding deliberation that will convince some listeners more than others. There’s much to be said for CPO’s excellent booklet notes and vibrant-sounding co-production with Bavarian Radio, yet my overall advice is to browse before buying.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Trio: Amelia Trio (Naxos), Quartet: Gothoni (Ondine)

  • Daniel Blumenthal (piano); Doren Dinglinger (violin); Tony Nys (viola); Alexandre Vay (cello)
  • CPO - 555116 2
  • CD

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