Ensemble Music presents the Fauré Piano Quartet

Faure Piano Quartet

After hosting an IVCI Laureate Series recital Tuesday, the

IHC's Basile Theater's piano had to be retuned (it took a good part of the day)

to be ready for Wednesday evening's second appearance under Ensemble Music

Society auspices of the Fauré Piano Quartet.  Its performers are pianist Dirk

Mommertz, violinist Erika Geldsetzer, violist Sasha Frömbling and cellist

Konstantin Heidrich.  And

it is perhaps fitting that the Fauré Piano Quartet performed the Fauré Piano

Quartet No. 1 in C

Minor, Op. 15 as its last offering.   Gabrielle Fauré (1845-1924) wrote two

in this form, and they both rate among his best chamber music.

This German based group began the concert with a work of German

composer Volker David Kirchner (b. 1942)--his  Piano Quartet No. 1 (no date found).  Lasting about ten

minutes, this avant-garde work is painfully soft and unrelievably slow.  The piano thumps

chords while the strings decorate with varying figures, playing white (i.e. no

vibrato).  There

are occasional eruptions of sound, but then they disappear.  Our performers poured themselves into it; they

know how to play it.  But

it probably mattered to few in attendance.

We were then relieved with Richard Strauss's early and

interesting Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 13 (1884).  Though he had not found his own mature

voice at age 20, his only piano quartet is filled with earlier Romantic

allusions and rather bold harmonic experimentation, together with challenging

writing for the piano.  Mommertz was kept

busy with difficult passage work all over the piano's compass while the strings

offered more lyric repose. 

The work's four movements offered a variety of late 19th-century

styles. The second movement, a Scherzo, gave us runaway speed, complex rhythms

and passages in a somewhat jocular vein.

Our chamber group saved the best for last.  Fauré's quartet is among the last

bastion of full-blown romanticism, its flower perhaps starting to wilt.  Within its five

movements we had a Scherzo followed by an Allegro Vivace, which continued the

rhythm and pace.  And

in its fifth movement, near the end, we hear a soft bit of impressionism, and

are reminded that Ravel had been a pupil of Fauré.

This is the first touring piano quartet group I've ever

heard, and thus the best piano quartet playing I've heard.  Throughout the above works, the Fauré

delivered precision, instrument balance, well controlled vibrato and that sense

of a matched ensemble -- attributes difficult to find in a "pickup" group of

professional musicians who join to play one piano quartet in a concert of

varied chamber genres. 

Our "matched ensemble" decided, after thundering, standing

applause to play as an encore "Ballet of the Chicks in their Shells" from

Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.  It was an

interesting transcription. 

Feb. 11; Indiana History Center