The quartets of Catharinus Elling (1858–1942) are written in a full-bodied German romantic idiom. When performed by the Engegård Quartet, sparks are flying.
Elling’s compositional style never departed from a romantic musical idiom. His ideals are borrowed from the German school as it is manifested in the music of Schubert via Mendelssohn and Schumann to Brahms. His output covers works for orchestra, chamber music, some 200 songs and many choral pieces, piano pieces and the opera Taras Bulba. He never dated his compositions, nor mentioned them in letters, but based on reviews of performances there is good reason to suppose that the works on this recording were all composed between 1890 and 1905.
The opening of Elling’s Piano Quartet in G minor is without doubt the most compelling contribution of all to Norwegian music history. The broad gestures within the strong framework, the colour palette of the instrumentation, the sparkle in the virtuoso piano part. Quickly checking the title page again; no it does not say Brahms or Mendelssohn – it actually says Catharinus Elling from Oslo!
The Engegård Quartet
A rediscovery such as this one is of course brought forward by performers of the highest quality. The Engegård Quartet has been highly praised for their recordings and concerts. Lead by Arvid Engegård – former leader of Camerata Salzburg under the direction of Sandór Végh and primarius of the Orlando Quartet – the uplifted spirit of their performance is indeed a blessing. 2011 opens a new chapter for the Engegård Quartet with Adrian Brendel as their new cellist.