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Kiel: Complete Piano Quartets

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 29, 2008
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Product Details

  • Performer: Ulrike-Anima Mathe, Hariolf Schlichtig, Xenia Jankovic, Oliver Triendl
  • Composer: Friedrich Kiel
  • Audio CD (January 29, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: CPO
  • ASIN: B000X24QS2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,569 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 17, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I've been acquiring all the music I can find by the middle 19th-century German composer Friedrich Kiel (1821-1885) because I find his music extraordinarily satisfying. He wrote music in a style reminiscent of Schumann, Mendelssohn, and most of all, Brahms. There can never enough of this sort of music, in my opinion, and my hat is off to the folks at cpo who have released several CDs of his music, e.g. Kiel: Works for Violincello and Piano, Vol. 2, Friedrich Kiel: Piano Quintets Nos. 1 & 2. This CD contains his three piano quartets which, like the other music, are exceedingly well-written, chock-full of wonderful tunes, and with tight and logical construction.

A few words about some of the felicities in these works: The Adagio in the A-minor first quartet is a particularly melodious song-form movement. It is followed by a Scherzo and Finale that are almost Beethovenian in their nobility, but they have their share of Brahmsian bar-line displacements that keep the listener surprised and pleased. The second quartet is shorter and sunnier than the A minor quartet and contains a merrily rustic finale. The three-movement third quartet is more of a piece with the second than the first, being genial, even tender, in its lyricism. The Andante quasi Allegretto is notable for its artful simplicity; its lovely main theme is modeled on the opening theme of Mozart's A Major piano sonata, K331 The finale is a joyous tarantella.

The playing by Ulrike-Anima Mathé, violin; Hariolf Schlichtig, viola; Xenia Jankovic, cello; and Oliver Triendl, piano is above reproach.
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Friedrich Kiel (1821-1885) will always have a generous footnote in music history for his pedagogy in Germany during the late 19th century. He taught Paderewski and Stanford among others. His compositions can be quite good, as adduced by his Viola Sonata and the piano trios, which I recommend wholeheartedly. I disagree with Scott Morrison’s rave review. I find little to no similarities between Kiel and Brahms, whether stylistically or temperamentally. Kiel is firmly and unashamedly old-fashioned, preferring the tonal world that was in vogue before the 1840s. These piano quartets are decent enough, but not quite at the level of quality and inspiration I hoped for. Kiel’s two piano quintets are even weaker, so steer clear of those.

The Piano Quartet No. 1 in A minor (1867) is a pretty safe and classically-oriented work, elegant in style, featuring Mozartian phrases, and yet straight off the Schumann-Mendelssohn assembly line. The “Allegro moderato ma con spirito” balances a sense of unease and tension in the first theme with sunny relief in the second. The performers stick to Kiel’s insistence on repeating the exposition, which makes this sonata-allegro quite lengthy. Greater things are achieved in the “Adagio,” one of noble and serious character, and still anachronistic in its classicism. Kiel even employs Alberti bass figures and classical piano writing with whiffs of early Beethoven. The whole effect is pleasant and pretty, but not very memorable. Kiel’s finale is the winning movement here, even though it is still restrained by classical poise. It is a fast and turbulent sonata-form work with Beethovenian gestures and interesting thematic material.

I see the Piano Quartet No.
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