I've been acquiring all the music I can find by the middle 19th-century German composer Friedrich Kiel (1821-1885) because I find his music extraordinarily satisfying. He wrote music in a style reminiscent of Schumann, Mendelssohn, and most of all, Brahms. There can never enough of this sort of music, in my opinion, and my hat is off to the folks at cpo who have released several CDs of his music, e.g. Kiel: Works for Violincello and Piano, Vol. 2, Friedrich Kiel: Piano Quintets Nos. 1 & 2. This CD contains his three piano quartets which, like the other music, are exceedingly well-written, chock-full of wonderful tunes, and with tight and logical construction.
A few words about some of the felicities in these works: The Adagio in the A-minor first quartet is a particularly melodious song-form movement. It is followed by a Scherzo and Finale that are almost Beethovenian in their nobility, but they have their share of Brahmsian bar-line displacements that keep the listener surprised and pleased. The second quartet is shorter and sunnier than the A minor quartet and contains a merrily rustic finale. The three-movement third quartet is more of a piece with the second than the first, being genial, even tender, in its lyricism. The Andante quasi Allegretto is notable for its artful simplicity; its lovely main theme is modeled on the opening theme of Mozart's A Major piano sonata, K331 The finale is a joyous tarantella.
The playing by Ulrike-Anima Mathé, violin; Hariolf Schlichtig, viola; Xenia Jankovic, cello; and Oliver Triendl, piano is above reproach. One can only hope that adventurous piano quartets will take up any or all of these works.
Recommended for all those who love mid-to-late nineteenth century Austro-German chamber music.