Teacher and student meet in a persuasive pairing

Suyeon Kang: Enescu, Fauré

The Strad Issue: March 2024

Description: Teacher and student meet in a persuasive pairing

Musicians: Suyeon Kang (violin) Karolina Errera (viola) Andrei Ioniță (cello) Cătălin Șerban (piano)

Works: Enescu: Piano Quartet no.1. Fauré: Piano Quartet no.1

Catalogue number: Naxos 8.551477

As a student at the Paris Conservatoire in the 1890s, Enescu was recognised by his teacher Fauré as being ‘very gifted, very hard-working’ and also ‘very entrenched in classical forms’. This pairing of the first piano quartets by both composers intriguingly reveals the French influence on the younger Romanian – not least in the richly melodic, harmonically modal slow movement of his 1909 Piano Quartet. This is projected with a suspended air of mystery in contrast to its flanking movements; the aspiration to the sublime here is marred only by the occasional audible exhalation. Enescu’s first movement certainly bears out Fauré’s observation of structural entrenchment but in this performance it is fully able to shoulder a monumental sense of scale. The finale is brilliantly executed.

Fauré’s Piano Quartet no.1 (1879, with the finale later revised) offers more flair. The first movement could take a touch more sweetness in places; and a little more transparency would lift the middle section of the dance-like Scherzo, especially when the piano takes over the tune to accompanying strings. But these minor quibbles are outweighed by an Adagio that deftly blends the tragic with the serene and a finale that unerringly shows off the players’ individual talents.