Berlin Piano Quartet (photo: Julian Lübbert)

Chamber Music

Chamber music with the Berlin Piano Quartet

The piano quartet is a very special musical genre: chamber music-like and symphonic at the same time. The Berlin Piano Quartet, consisting of Philharmoniker string players and the pianist Kim Barbier, has made it its mission to bring the rather rarely performed repertoire of this genre to the concert stage. In this concert, the ensemble presents piano quartets by three composers who are known above all for their symphonic works: Gustav Mahler, Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms.

Berlin Piano Quartet

Gustav Mahler

Quartet Movement for violin, viola, cello and piano

Robert Schumann

Piano Quartet in E flat major, op. 47

Johannes Brahms

Piano Quartet No. 3 in D minor, op. 60

Dates and Tickets

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Sun, 17 Dec 2017, 20:00

Chamber Music Hall | Introduction: 19:00

Serie T

Programme

“I see the genre of the piano quartet as something very special – because of its own particular timbre,” says violist Micha Afkham, who founded the Berlin Piano Quartet together with his Philharmoniker colleagues violinist Christophe Horak and 1st principal cello Bruno Delepelaire, plus the pianist Kim Barbier. “With the piano, we strings need to integrate into the overall sound in a very different way. That’s a new challenge for me!” The interaction of keyboard instrument and strings opened up unexpected tonal opportunities to the performers: they can sound as intimate as a string quartet, as virtuoso as a piano trio or as symphonic as a small orchestra. A delightful line-up which has inspired almost all the great composers since the First Viennese School.

The four musicians open their programme with a composer known only as a symphonist and is really not associated with chamber music: Gustav Mahler. His Piano Quartet in A minor, only the first movement of which has survived, was composed during his studies at the conservatory in Vienna. An early work that gives no indication of the depths of despair that later are so characteristic of Mahler’s musical language, but – very closely aligned to the Romantic tradition – it strikes a melancholy and wistful tone.

In contrast, the Piano Quartet in E flat major, which Robert Schumann composed in his “chamber music year” of 1842, is a reference work of the genre – due to the subtle thematic construction which brings all four movements together, and the balanced treatment of the individual instruments which interact as equal partners. Directly connected to Robert Schumann is Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quartet in C minor, in which the composer expresses his despair over his unrequited love for Schumann’s wife Clara. Feeling like an excluded third party in a love triangle, he speaks of a “Werther mood” he gives to the entire piano quartet.

Berlin Piano Quartet (photo: Julian Lübbert)