A Paul Wittgenstein commission forms a striking centrepiece

Aron Quartet, Hartmut Rohde: Gál

The Strad Issue: November 2022

Description: A Paul Wittgenstein commission forms a striking centrepiece

Musicians: Members of the Aron Quartet, Hartmut Rohde (viola) Gottlieb Wallisch (piano) Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra

Works: Gál: Piano Quartet in A major; Piano Suite op.24, Concertino for piano and string orchestra op.43; Impromptu for viola and piano

Catalogue number: CPO 555 276-2

Hans Gál wrote his Quartet in A major for piano left hand and string trio for Paul Wittgenstein in 1926. The first movement has an emphatic dance-like opening which soon leads into a more contemplative passage, the strings passing phrases and melodies to each other as the piano ripples along. These alternations of robust assertion and gentle musing continue throughout the movement, with eloquent, shapely phrasing from the players and deft pacing. Violinist Barna Kobori leads off the second movement with lightness and energy, qualities quickly picked up by his colleagues. Here again strength and pliant expression co-exist, with the piano providing driving rhythmic impetus. The Adagio has something of a lullaby about it, its dreaming melodies lovingly sculpted. The strings open the finale, spiky and busy, biting into the strings, before the piano calms the mood. Hartmut Rohde’s playing of the short and beautifully crafted Impromptu is simple and affecting.

The excellent pianist Gottlieb Wallisch has the lion’s share of the disc, showing characterful playing in both the compact Suite of 1942 and the Concertino, ably partnered in the latter by the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra under Rohde. The recording is warm and clear.