Gál: Piano Quartet in B flat major, Op 13; Three Sonatinas for violin and piano, Op 71; Sonatina in F major (1934)

Reviewed on Thu 26 Apr, 2018

Sarah Beth Briggs and her colleagues lend Hans Gál's substantial Piano Quartet memorably persuasive advocacy, relishing its superb craftsmanship, tenderness of expression and fecund lyricism.

Toccata Classics' third volume devoted to Hans Gál's chamber music launches in propitious style with the substantial Piano Quartet in B flat major that the 24-year-old composer completed in 1914. A most exciting discovery it comprises, too, fairly brimming with youthful high spirits, confident sweep and technical flair. Pianist Sarah Beth Briggs and her string-playing colleagues lend this delightful score memorably persuasive advocacy, relishing its superb craftsmanship, tenderness of expression and fecund lyricism, nowhere more potently displayed than in the hauntingly lovely Andante con moto slow movement. Certainly, anyone with a fondness for Brahms, Dvořák or Dohnányi should investigate without delay. The copious rewards continue with the three sonatinas for violin and piano that Gál penned in 1956 (some 18 years after the Nazi Anschluss of his native Austria had forced him to seek refuge in Britain). Nourishing, pithy, serene and resourceful, they will handsomely repay further scrutiny; ditto the charming 1934 Sonatina that Gál reworked some three years later as his Op 46 Serenade for Strings. Suffice it to say, Katalin Kertész and Sarah Beth Briggs forge an outstandingly eloquent partnership. Throw in some top-notch production-values and a notably helpful booklet-essay by the composer's daughter Eva Fox-Gál, and it all adds up to yet another winner of a release from this enterprising label.
–Andrew Achenbach