Aperto Piano Quartet

Reger: String Trio in A minor, Op. 77b; Piano Quartet in D minor, Op. 113

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Seasoned Reger enthusiasts will greet a disc coupling his A minor String Trio and Piano Quartet in D minor with eagerness and hope for the best. The string trio is an atypically light and witty work for the Bavarian fin de si├Ęcle composer, but the piano quartet is full-tilt Reger at his most vehemently expressive and structurally massive, so while any fan of late Romantic chamber music could enjoy the trio, only the most dedicated of the composer's admirers would assert they enjoy the quartet. Thankfully, the performances here by the German Aperto Piano Quartet prove equally effective in both pieces. The strings' strong attacks and crisp releases along with an ability to sustain the long line counts for a lot in the trio, and the addition of the pianist's rich sonorities augment the power in the quartet. Whether this forcefulness enhances the work's hyper-intense opening Allegro moderato or central Larghetto is open for debate, but one cannot deny the passion the Aperto's players bring to the job. Recorded in vivid if slightly too close sound, this is the first of two Naxos discs featuring Reger's complete piano quartets and string trios, and listeners who like this one may want to seek out that one, too.

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