Music Review - A Brahms Piano Quartet, With No Strings Attached
By VIVIEN SCHWEITZER
Published: May 16, 2008
Musicians and composers have long been tempted to transcribe and rearrange each other’s works, like chefs experimenting with a recipe. Sometimes new ingredients are a welcome addition; on other occasions you yearn for the original flavors.
That was the case when the Sylvan Winds performed an arrangement of Brahms’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor at Weill Recital Hall on Wednesday, with the pianist Claude Frank. The flutist Samuel Baron arranged the work, originally for piano and three strings, for piano and wind quintet. The transcription is idiomatic and particularly effective in the Rondo alla Zingarese, the fiery final movement. In the slower sections I missed the emotive warmth and passion of Brahmsian strings.
But the main problem was the painfully sloppy playing of Mr. Frank, a distinguished pianist who sounded here as if he were sight-reading, prompting a near-derailment and a mushy overall effect particularly unfortunate in the vivacious Rondo. A more polished piano sound would certainly have better complemented the fine playing of the wind players: the flutist Svjetlana Kabalin (the only original member of the group), the clarinetist Pavel Vinnitsky, the bassoonist Erik Holtje and the horn player Zohar Schondorf. The lilting, pure tone of the oboist Alexandra Knoll was particularly admirable throughout the evening.
The concert opened with an appealing performance of Samuel Barber’s languidly lyrical “Summer Music” for wind quintet, written in 1956 and part of his small chamber music output. Barber didn’t attach a specific program to the work, but the Sylvan musicians aptly conveyed the sultry prairie humidity it evokes and the vitality of its jaunty outbursts.
The program also included Mozart’s Quintet for piano and winds in E flat. A few ragged edges notwithstanding, the wind players and Mr. Frank mostly did justice to this work. After its premiere in 1784 (when the composer played the piano part), Mozart wrote to his father that he considered it “the best thing I have written in my life.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/16/arts/ ... 0&emc=eta1