For any listener who loves chamber music of the romantic period, this is a must. It only took the first couple of achingly lovely seconds of the String Quartet in F Major by August Klughardt for me to feel that I had found a very special recording.
Who was August Klughardt? Born in 1847 in the city of Köthen Germany, Klughardt was a musical prodigy who at the age of sixteen was performing as piano soloist with major German orchestras, was having his own compositions premiered, and soon after, conducted 75 opera performances during a winter season at the Neustrelitz Theatre.
Klughardt’s String Quartet, Op. 42 received its premiere alongside performances of Mozart’s Quartet K 428 and Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 131. This first performance was a huge success for Klughardt. As I listened to the string quartet, my first impression was that it came from the early decades of the romantic period. It reminded me of Schumann, Schubert and especially Mendelssohn. As I listened on though, my impression as to the date of the work advanced decade by decade until it became clear that Klughardt had written this quartet, as well as the companion piece on this CD, his Piano Quintet Op. 43, with the chamber music of Brahms in hindsight.
Both works are characterized by sweeping gestures, a richness of sonority, and the meticulous development of motifs. The period instrument Pleyel Quartett, and fortepianist Tobias Koch provide superb performances. There is one caveat however from my point of view. Just as I prefer to hear Brahms’ chamber music performed with a modern piano, I feel that Klughardt’s music too would be better served by a modern instrument. But you might not agree, and in any case, it’s no reason to miss this splendid recording.
August Klughardt, a Brahms contemporary, was a vivid personality at the turn of 19th century. As a pianist, conductor, and composer, he had an enormous reputation and influence on the cultural life of eastern Germany. His repertoire was played along with the works of Beethoven, Mozart, and Schumann. Klughardt was a close friend of the great violinist Joseph Joachim, and devoted both of these works to him.
Composer: August Klughardt
Klughardt’s meeting with Liszt established his enthusiasm for the music of the Neudeutsche Schule around Wagner and Liszt. Indeed, his works reflect some of their conceptions. Nevertheless, Klughardt did not shy… read more
Performers: Pleyel Quartet
A special feature of the Pleyel Quartet’s sound comes from their specific use of gut strings and selective vibrato creating a limpid and warm tonal transparency. Following on their highly-acclaimed performance of… read more