Brahms’s expansive piano quartets are technically demanding works, but any potential difficulties are putty in the hands of Fauré Quartett. Passionately embodying its eponym Gabriel Fauré’s guiding credo—“chamber music is the true music and the sincerest expression of personality”—the German foursome tackles two of the composer’s quartets with extraordinary depth and dynamism. Sharpened and synchronized over 15 years of playing together, violinist Erika Geldsetzer, violist Sascha Frömbling, cellist Konstantin Heidrich and pianist Dirk Mommertz meld their abilities eloquently, communicating the essence of Brahms with fluent spontaneity, warmth and vividness.
The Romantic composer wrote his Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25, at the age of 28, and it’s arguably his best-known work in this form. Of the countless recordings, including a wonderful 2008 interpretation from the Amity Players (featuring young Chinese pianist Xiayin Wang), it’s tempting to rank Fauré Quartett’s near the top for its sheer unity and details—the audible care that’s been taken in highlighting the music’s orchestral aspects while communicating that cascading Brahmsian momentum.
The following Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor, Op. 6—which the composer dubbed “suicide music”—is further proof of the group’s ability to enter the composer’s world for half an hour. The Karlsruhe-based musicians are on an ongoing quest to capture the definitive Brahms sound. With this recording, they just may have nailed it.