Oliver Triendl / Vogler Quartet

Ludwig Thuille: Piano Quintets

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Felled by a heart attack at age 45, Ludwig Thuille never fulfilled his promise as one of the leading musicians of his circle in Munich, and his short life gave him little time to achieve greatness. The disappointments of his operas Lobetanz and Gugeline made his career seem faltering, and the rise to fame of his close friend Richard Strauss certainly overshadowed his work. Yet Thuille's reputation has survived in his chamber music, which has enjoyed a modest renaissance in several recordings. In particular, his piano quintets have been favored with two worthy recordings, one from 2002 by Tomer Lev and the Falk Quartet for ASV, and this 2006 release by pianist Oliver Triendl and the Vogler Quartet for CPO. Thuille's music may be compared in its style to the chamber works of Schumann and Brahms, and the conservative tendencies of his student work, the Piano Quintet in G minor (1880), and the Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 20 (1901), may be traced as well to his studies with Joseph Rheinberger. Yet this is engaging music that has abundant charm: the later work especially evokes its time period in its lush harmonies and sweeping melodies, and it exudes a nostalgic, perfumed quality that belongs to music of the fin de siècle. Triendl and the Vogler Quartet treat the music with ardent emotions and strongly articulated playing that make it feel robust and sincerely felt, even if it isn't especially innovative or interesting for any unusual features. CPO's reproduction is enjoyable for its clarity and warmth, and the terrific sound is sure to make these works more attractive to skeptics.

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