Copenhagen Piano Quartet: Kuhlau: Piano Quartets 1&2

review copenhagenA x1 cong

Unlike Henze (see above) Kuhlau seems to have been more workmanlike in his output, writing cosmopolitan pieces to entertain, and these two piano quartets are major works from the composer’s most productive decade. They’re both easy to listen to and evidence of Kuhlau’s skills as a pianist.
Part of the attraction of this CD is the playing. The Copenhagen Piano Quartet are not only good players but young, and this is their debut recording. It’s got the energy about it of players with something to prove, though the playing is tight and controlled.
The quartet won the Val Tidone international chamber music competition in Italy 2013, the Royal Danish Academy of Music’s chamber music competition 2012, was a prizewinner in the Danish Radio’s chamber music competition in 2014 and in the International Johannes Brahms competition in Austria 2012.
The sleeve notes say Kuhlau was one of the leading figures in the Danish Golden Age; we’d guess that it was his qualities as somewhat overlooked but quality composer of music that’s comparatively straightforward made him a good choice for a new quartet to launch its career.
It’s a pleasurable CD and Kuhlau an interesting character: a one-eyed alcoholic who liked jovial company, he was a self-taught musician who improved his piano playing as a child while recovering from the loss of the eye.
He once went to meet Beethoven and the latter composed a drinking canon using Kuhlau’s name, later writing that the champagne consumed meant he could not “in the least recollect what I wrote last night”. Dacapo (6220596).

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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