Avery Ensemble : Piano Quartets

CD [Cover Art for Avery Ensemble / Piano Quartets] Your Price: $15.51
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Sell date: 1/2008
Label: CD Baby
Mfg's Catalog#: 5637214
CDC Part#: 74410
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 Notes & Reviews
ENSEMBLE BIO: Unique among American chamber ensembles, the Avery Ensemble performs a breadth of styles spanning the history of Western instrumental music. For them the art music of the seventeenth century and that of the twenty-first belongs to one and the very same musical tradition - Purcell and Mozart become not merely ancestors to Brahms and Schnittke, but siblings. The ensemble's remarkable chemistry is revealed in performances that extract the utmost meaning from each work in it's diverse repertoire. Unrivaled virtuosity, depth of understanding and passion distinguish their presentations of the standard chamber music repertoire, seventeenth-century music and post-modern masterpieces. NOTES: Piano Quartet (1876) Gustav Mahler (1860 - 1911) It is unfortunate for us that Gustav Mahler turned away from composing chamber music while still a young man. Even the expanded symphony orchestra was hard-pressed to realize the dynamic range and variety of colors that his imagination required. The same year that Brahms' last piano quartet was published Mahler entered the Vienna Conservatory. And there he did compose chamber music that he performed with his colleagues. Not all of these unpublished works were committed to paper (the piano part to his violin sonata existed 'only in his head'). In his biography of the composer, Donald Mitchell makes a compelling case that the A-minor piano quartet movement recorded on this disc is the work that won the sixteen-year old Mahler a prize during his first year at the conservatory. Notwithstanding it's weaknesses in formal organization, the movement possesses a brooding affect that is engaging and darkly attractive. The composer lamentably did not choose to complete the other movements. All that exists of the rest of the work is the twenty-four-measure fragment ... Piano Quartet (1988) Alfred Schnittke (1934 - 1998) Alfred Schnittke often perpetrates no small violence against chronology by subjecting older music or musical styles to processes of distortion and deconstruction that he observed in Mahler's Symphonies (consider the funeral march on the children's round FrEre Jacques from Symphony no. 1). In his Piano Quartet Schnittke exploits bare anachronism for it's inherent tension. He appropriates Mahler's piano quartet Scherzo fragment in G minor whose melody is heard seventeen times during the piece. A fascinating orchestration of this work can be heard as the second movement of Schnittke's Concerto Grosso no. 4/Symphony no. 5 (1988). Schnittke places Mahler's melody in opposition to a musical entity that attempts to break down and assimilate it, perhaps to devour and digest it. Schnittke's signature spiral cell-a four-note circular motif, i.e. E flat, D, C, C sharp-is ubiquitous to the material constituting this 'entity.' In his Penitential Psalms, the composer makes a point of repeatedly using this motive to set the word '?e?e???' (eternal, everlasting, endless, perpetual). Schnittke's concerns with temporality, eternity, mortality and achronism invade his instrumental music through musical signs, allusions and pictorial gestures such as this circular motif. Mahler's original accompaniment, heard most clearly at the beginning and in the final episode, also has a beginningless quality; it is circular and even traces a pictorial allusion to the infinity sign [8] in it's repetition. Schnittke creates a representation of an aberrational encounter between two incompatible dimensions. One might choose to read them as time verses eternity or simply as the individual verses a cruel society; in the score there is justification for both. The narrative, and particularly the denouement, can be kaleidoscopically changed from one listening to another as the listener considers different roles for the work's cast of characters. Mahler's melody [diatonicism, the individual, time, history?] takes on the musical persona of a protagonist in a struggle that plays out in the four episodes that form the work. The first episode is governed by strict inversional complementation; three different lines, includ

Gustav Mahler: Piano Quartet (1876)
Alfred Schnittke: Piano Quartet (1988)
Johannes Brahms: Piano Quartet No.1 in G Minor, Op.25 - Allegro
Johannes Brahms: Piano Quartet No.1 in G Minor, Op.25 - Intermez
Johannes Brahms: Piano Quartet No.1 in G Minor, Op.25 - Andante
Johannes Brahms: Piano Quartet No.1 in G Minor, Op.25 - Rondo Al