The members of the Primrose Piano Quartet - Susanne Stanzeleit, Dorothea Vogel, Andrew Fuller and John Thwaites - will be launching their new recording of the complete Brahms Piano Quartets, recorded on period pianos in Ehrbar Saal, Vienna, later this month.
Composed during the middle years of the 19th century, the piano quartets of Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897) display the composer’s symphonic mastery in their scope of Romantic expression and range of development, and owe a debt of inspiration to personal and performing partnerships with the Schumann family and Hungarian violinists, Eduard Reményi and Joseph Joachim.
“Prior to the recording, we undertook a lot of research into the latest historically informed performance practice which is reflected in our interpretations”, explained violinist, Susanne Stanzeleit. “Our own teachers had close and direct links back to Brahms and the playing tradition of the time so we felt very at home with the process. We used three stunning pianos dating from the mid-19th century from the Gert Hecher collection in Vienna and moved them to the famous Ehrbar Hall, where Brahms himself often performed, for the recording. To complement the sound of the pianos the three strings players changed their set ups to closely resemble the string sound of the period, using a combination of uncovered and covered gut strings.”
Pianist John Thwaites recalls: “I chose a Blüthner, an Ehrbar and a Streicher - the latter identical to the instrument given to Brahms in 1868. We know Brahms visited the Ehrbar Hall in the 1870’s and 80’s to try his symphonies and piano concertos on two pianos.”
The Primrose Piano Quartet has previously recorded Romantic repertoire to great acclaim with their award-winning recordings for the Meridian label including works by Schubert, Fauré and Richard Strauss. Alongside their performances of the major repertoire, they have revived a number of remarkable and unjustly neglected 20th century English piano quartets, as well as giving a platform to contemporary composers, including Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies, Sally Beamish, John Casken and Anthony Payne, whose works have been written for and premièred by them.
Formed in 2004 and named after the great Scottish violist, William Primrose, the Quartet are preparing for another busy performing season throughout the UK. Recent extensive tours have taken the Quartet to Denmark, Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania and Germany, and with their own festival in West Meon they bring world-class chamber music performances to rural Hampshire. They were appointed artists-in-residence at the Battle Festival in 2016, and they have also been regularly selected as members of the Making Music Concert Promoters’ Network.