Eduard Brunner / Deutsches Streichtrio

Kryzstof Penderecki: Clarinet Quartet ; String Trio

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Try this disc when you're driving in your car. You will get to work energized, perhaps even early. The Deutsches Streichtrio plays the String Trio with taut energy laced with threat and dashed with melancholy. They remind me of the way the Emerson String Quartet plays Bartok. When they tire of hurling chromatic bolts of demi-melody, they lead you through a cavern of vague unease. I listened transfixed. So this is why Penderecki dedicated this piece to them. They know its inner secrets, unlike the Tale Quartet (BIS CD-652), who seem to be on less sure ground, particularly with the staccato opening chords. While the Deutsches Streichtrio speak them boldly, the Tale do so timidly, as if this music requires understatement. Similarly, clarinetist Eduard Brunner's Prelude for Clarinet solo begins less tenuously than Martin Fröst's, quickly getting to the point by stating its poetry in 2:34 rather than 3:21. Fröst's is still a compelling rendition, but Brunner plays closer to the sinews and bones. His legato of pain at the climax passes by quickly, like when a bullet grazes the skull, while Fröst dwells a moment too long. Similiarly the Deutsches Streichtrio performs the Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio with keening and dark insinuation. While less spectacular, the Tale does a decent job; however their sound seems distantly miked, so the pp passages lose resonance. While these are the only three works these collections have in common, I would recommend the CPO disc if you want one volume of Penderecki's intense chamber music. Violinist Hans Kalafusz and pianist Patrick O'Byrne play his Sonata for Violin and Piano so well you may see the ghosts of Bartok and Prokofiev. Like the Bartok second Violin Sonata, this piece is a charmingly dissonant work with off-kilter folk melodies.

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