The Pro Arte Piano Quartet was made up of leading London-based instrumentalists, many of whom also played in the Melos Ensemble of London. Pianist Lamar Crowson was, and remains, one of the great chamber music pianists of all time (and a soloist in his own right). Kenneth Sillito led, for several years, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Terence Weil was principal cellist of the English Chamber Orchestra and, like viola player Cecil Aronowitz, a founding member of the Melos Ensemble. Together they made three records for L’Oiseau-Lyre, the Decca subsidiary and they are all now reissued on Decca Eloquence.
If the year 1840 saw Schumann discover his talent for songwriting – more than 130 were composed that year – in 1842 he brought his beloved piano into the world of chamber music writing both, the Piano Quartet and the Piano Quintet that year. ‘They seemed to please players and listeners alike, particularly Mendelssohn’ he said of these works. Though vigorous and songful, it is not rugged – a quality which could be attributed to Brahms’s Piano Quartet No. 3. Though the last of the three to be published, it is conceivable that Brahms began work on it much earlier. Both pieces continue to be staples in the chamber music repertoire.
Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor, Op. 60
Piano Quartet in E flat major, Op. 47
The Pro Arte Piano Quartet
Lamar Crowson, piano
Kenneth Sillito, violin
Cecil Aronowitz, viola
Terence Weil, cello
‘The Brahms in particular gets a very sympathetic recording with a warm, full acoustic that suits it perfectly, and both here and in the Schumann the balance is such that while the piano’s power is never inhibited the strings are not overpowered.’ Gramophone