ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
AUGUST KLUGHARDT - Piano Quintet Op. 43


AUGUST KLUGHARDT - Piano Quintet Op. 43 - String Quintet Op. 62 - Leipzig String Quartet - Olga Gollej (Piano) - Julian Steckel (Cello) - MDG 3071652

Do not let your unfamiliarity with the name fool you into thinking that this composer's work is amateurish or second rate. The German conductor and composer August Klughardt (1847-1902), dedicated one of his six symphonies to Richard Wagner, even though his music was considered outdated by the dedicatee. True, the two chamber works on this new recording bear closer resemblance to early Schumann (Piano Quintet) and early Brahms (String Quintet), but they are nonetheless dramatic, inventive and well worked out.

There is no better proof of that than the dramatic opening movement of the Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 43. Its dark and mysterious introduction, like a distant unison choir, sets the tone for some well crafted thematic development over its 16 minute duration. The main ideas get tossed around freely from piano to strings and back, each taking on the leading role in turn, until the unison choir effect makes an emphatic return in the end. The remaining three movements are no less inspired but somewhat lighter in mood, therefore providing the proper counter-balance to the long and dramatic opening movement. The String Quintet in G minor, Op. 62 seems less concerned with drama than with the natural, folk-inspired flow of the music itself. Klughardt's facility with writing by now, exhibits itself by a more relaxed sense of direction and naturally flowing counterpoint.

Once again, the Leipzig String Quartet, this time with the help of Olga Gollej in the Op. 43 and Julian Steckel in the Op. 62, provide a flawless and exemplary interpretation of these neglected 19th century chamber music works. And plaudits to MDG for travelling down the back-roads and avoiding the streamlined, but congested and boring highway.

Jean-Yves Duperron - October 2010