Ensemble Music Series; Indiana History Center; Jan. 27. A piano quartet usually defines music and not performers. The Fauré Quartet is an interesting exception: a German-based set of four performers named for a French composer. When we hear the two piano quartets (piano, violin, viola, cello) of Mozart, the three of Brahms and the two of namesake Gabriel Fauré, we expect to hear either a piano trio group with a guest violist added or a string quartet with a pianist subbing for the second violin. All of which suggests that a piano quartet group constantly playing together should excel over an ensemble with a "pickup" artist. Such was not necessarily the case this last Wednesday: As Ensemble Music program annotator Marianne Tobias suggested, Menahem Pressler was master of the keyboard in Brahms' Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25 - so that Pressler's Beaux Arts Trio with a guest violist has done better by this work.
However, the Fauré's pianist, Dirk Mommertz shaped his part in the Brahms quite well; it was violinist Erika Geldsetzer who compromised the ensemble blend with bowing loud enough to occasionally shriek. In any case, she often drowned out her partners, violist Sascha Frömbling and cellist Konstantin Heidrich, both of whom seemed excellent, when heard alone. While Op. 25 tends to meander thru its first three movements, its Hungarian Rondo finale has all its stops pulled, our performers having it well under their fingers. (Arnold Schoenberg later orchestrated it in a glitzy manner - no improvement whatever.) The Faurés began with Mahler's teen-age written Quartettsatz
in A Minor (the name, "Quartet movement" recalling Schubert's famous one in C minor) and continued with Mozart's well known Piano Quartet in G Minor, K. 478. Both were well done, except that we needed a violinist of Isidore Cohen or Ida Kavafian's (both with tenures in the Beaux Arts Trio) bowing control.