In concert: Beethoven’s Gassenhauer Trio

Chamber music can be profound, difficult, emotionally wrenching. But much can be more fun, a delight for friends or scratch ensembles to play just for the enjoyment of it.

Last year, while in Manchester to play concerts as a soloist with the Hallé, Elisabeth Brauss got together with the orchestra’s Sergio Castelló López and Simon Turner to play Beethoven’s Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 11 for piano, clarinet and cello (known as the Gassenhauer Trio). The Hallé have just newly put a video recording online, and it is captivating, with the players’ enjoyment indeed shining through. So I thought I would share!  [Just 22 minutes]

In concert: Dana Zemtsov and PHQ

I have been listening to a couple of CDs by the violist Dana Zemtsov. And I thought I’d also share this video of a relaxed and very engaging short concert she gave with friends a couple of years ago. I particularly enjoyed the opening two pieces by Beethoven and Lutosławski, and the final pieces (starting at 51.40) by Shostakovich.

What took me to exploring Dana Zemtsov’s recordings was finding that she is to be the violist with the Pavel Haas Quartet for the coming months. She is obviously a very fine player, but also (or so it strikes me) her approach and playing style should be a terrific fit. [Added: And a review of their Madrid concert, a couple of days ago, comments that they were “perfectamente integrados”, mentioning particularly Dana Zemtsov’s viola as something “fantástico” given how new she is to the quartet.] I really do hope this works out for them all — we so need the PHQ to settle into a happy new line-up and then feel able get back to the recording studio!

Meanwhile, here are two BBC radio recordings from PHQ concerts at last year’s Bath Mozartfest. First, the Prokofiev’s String quartet No 2 (which they recorded on a prize-winning CD a dozen years ago) and Schubert’s String quartet in G major, D 887 (starting at 6.14). [You might need to use a VPN pointed to the UK to access BBC sounds.]

And some other PHQ news, in case you missed it. In the BBC Radio 3 Record Review programme last Saturday, their “Building a Library” episode was surveying recordings of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No 8 in C minor. Surely one of the very greatest pieces of chamber music of the second half of the twentieth century. The reviewer’s top recommendation was the PHQ recording. So yet another accolade for them. You can listen to a podcast of the episode here. And then their recording of the Shostakovich was broadcast here (starting at 17.00).

In concert: Peter Jablonski and Elisabeth Brauss play Bacewicz

Not my usual kind of music! But, this week, here is a performance of Grażyna Bacewicz’s Double Piano Concerto of 1966. The soloists are Peter Jablonski, who last year released a very well received CD of Bacewicz piano works, and Elisabeth Brauss. And since this concert in December, they have recorded the Concerto together for another CD to be released in the spring. Visit the concert page here, press Katso (play), and go to about 22.30 for the Concerto (which last less than twenty minutes). I’m not sure what to make of the music, but I much enjoyed watching them play!

Peter Jablonski and Elisabeth Brauss also play a very short and delightful encore by Ligeti, at 42.10. And then, if you want something a lot calmer, here is another very short piece, this time by Hindemith, quite beautifully played by Elisabeth. Hopefully a trailer for a DG solo disk by her.

In concert: Chiaroscuro Quartet play Beethoven

Here is a video of the wonderful Chiaroscuro Quartet at a recent concert in Stockholm. They begin with Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 33, No. 4, followed (at 16:30) by Emilie Mayer’s String Quartet No. 1 (first performed in 1858). The concert concludes (from 47:30) with Beethoven’s String Quartet, Op. 59, No. 3.

I leave you to make your own mind up about the Mayer piece. But I’m really linking this video because of the performance of the third Rasumovsky. That quartet has been a quite special favourite of mine ever since I saw Godard’s One Femme Marieé at a very impressionable age — do you remember this scene? I have never found out which quartet’s performance was used in the film — though of the recordings from that era which I know, it is quite similar to that by the Amadeus.

The greatest live performance I’ve ever heard was by the Pavel Haas about three years ago, who were absolutely on fire at Wigmore Hall. I have never heard the transcendental second movement played more affectingly, or the final movement propelled with such passion. Astonishing (as the audience obviously felt at the time). But this performance by the Chiaroscuro, with their distinctive timbre on gut strings, is very fine indeed.

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