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Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, January 2012

well played with lively interpretations. The sound is clear…Though most of the music is teenage Strauss, it’s melodic and enjoyable… © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

James L Zychowicz
MusicWeb International, December 2011

the Amelia Piano Trio shows its engagement in the music, with the performance standing out for its vibrant sound and tight ensemble.

Max Mandel joins the Amelia, in performing Strauss’s extant pieces for piano quartet. Here, the performers’ fine ensemble skills emerge well to give a sense of the style they bring to their music-making.

The recording captures the performances well and communicates them to the listener with vivid immediacy. Those interested in Strauss’s work will find that this music offers fresh perspectives on the composer’s development. At the same time, these works are products of a late nineteenth century chamber-music tradition, a lineage that included a number of outstanding works that would be part of the Strauss household’s social and artistic fabric. © MusicWeb International Read complete review

Mike D. Brownell, October 2011

This Naxos album explores Strauss’ very first published chamber compositions, the earliest of which is a work estimated to have been written about 1875, when the composer was all of 11 years old. While they do not demonstrate what was to come in Strauss’ mature works, they do illustrate the incredible command over form and structure that the young composer had and are worthwhile works in their own right. Performing is the Amelia Piano Trio, joined for part of the program by violist Max Mandel. This ensemble does an admirable job of treating these pieces not like works by a child, but early examples of a master’s mind at work. Their playing is clean, crisp and vibrant, just like Strauss’ scores. The addition of the viola for the movements for piano quartet is seamless, creating a well-blended, rich sound. Naxos’ sound is pristine and detailed.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2011

As the record industry delve ever deeper in search of forgotten masterpieces we find this group of chamber works by Richard Strauss. Probably intended for family consumption rather than public performance, the earliest piece, the Concertante, dates from around his eleventh year. That he was being well-schooled comes in the First Trio in direct lineage of Haydn and Mozart. Written the following year, the Second Trio—he was fourteen at the time—is almost twice as long and has moved to the era of Mendelssohn, the bubbling Scherzo a particularly pleasing movement. He certainly had the knowledge to set a solemn opening to contrast with an attractive free flowing final Allegro vivace. Four years later came the short Standchen for Piano Quartet, and stylistically we have moved no further forward. Two family presents come in the Festmarsch and Two Pieces for Piano Quartet that take us through to his young maturity, the latter score a real oddity with an bizarre opening Arab Dance, followed by a sumptuous Liebesliedchen. At first I thought a fine forte piano was being used, but I guess it is the recorded sound. The performances from the critically acclaimed American-based Amelia Piano Trio—with the addition of the viola of Max Mandel at the appropriate places—do everything possible for the music, though you would hardly guess there was a great composer in the offing.

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