Brahms: Piano Quartet No 1 in G minor, Op 25; Fauré: Piano Quartet No 1 in C minor, Op 15: Schnittke: Piano Quartet in A minor

Reviewed on Fri 13 May, 2016

In the Fauré the long, flowing phrases sing with an elegant, knowing lyricism. Pianist Kim Barbier’s tone and articulation seem to define the performance, with the piano offering propulsive, well-weighted attacks but also a warm, resonant sound.

The Berlin Piano Quartet is made up of players from the Berlin Philharmonic, plus pianist Kim Barbier: two German, two French – an ideal mix for Fauré and Brahms. The Fauré gets the better treatment, with the ensemble effortlessly conveying the music’s French spirit. The long, flowing phrases sing with an elegant, knowing lyricism. Barbier’s tone and articulation seem to define the performance, with the piano offering propulsive, well-weighted attacks but also a warm, resonant sound. The Brahms is performed in a similar spirit, but lacks the rigour and incisive rhythmic profile that the work demands. Between, we hear Schnittke’s Piano Quartet, here given an impressively detailed and controlled reading, perhaps too controlled in the dissonant climax. A good performance, though it seems to have been included as a curiosity. Better would have been to present it with the Mahler Piano Quartet movement it was intended to follow, a pairing all too rare on disc.
–Gavin Dixon