The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: Outstanding performances make Enescu’s music sound greater than it is
Musicians: Tammuz Piano Quartet
Composer: Enescu

Perhaps the most significant revolution inspired by the compact disc is the unprecedented breadth of musical repertoire that has become available. As a result, once-neglected figures such as George Enescu have become almost household names. However, listening again to the stylistic melting pots that are the First Piano Quartet (Schumann and Brahms, flavoured strongly with middle-period Fauré) and the Second (predominately late Fauré) it is hard to escape the fact that despite the enormous skill involved in their creation, Enescu lacked the unmistakable creative profile of the ‘greats’.

That said, the all-star Tammuz Piano Quartet – whose members include former concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Daniel Gaede and celebrated violist Lars Anders Tomter – plays these opulent scores with such dedicated intensity that their stylistic terms of reference appear almost to melt away. These outstanding musicians capture the dreamy amorphousness of the Second Quartet’s central Andante to perfection, yet when the music takes flight, as in the finale of the First Quartet, they play with a thrilling sense of sophisticated abandon that galvanises the attention. Both musically and technically it is difficult to imagine these engrossing performances being surpassed, and the recording captures the music’s pulsating ebb and flow with exemplary precision and atmosphere.