The Piano Quartet in A minor, Op 31, was written in 1916 and is more representative of Catoire’s mature style. Here the virtuosity is of a different order. The rhythmic interplay between the four instruments is complex and fluid, especially in the first movement. The influence of Scriabin can be felt strongly. Catoire was a great admirer of Scriabin’s early and middle-period works, though disapproving of his last works which he described as having an ‘absence of harmonic movement and a tiresome stasis’. Looking at Catoire’s Piano Quartet, one can appreciate what he meant. Here everything is fluid with remarkable harmonic shifts and rhythmic subtlety. Despite the ensemble challenges this work presents, there is a natural, almost organic, quality to the writing and the slow second movement has an astonishing beauty in complete contrast to the violent period in which it was written. The rhapsodic final movement is fleet-footed and poignant. A dream-like atmosphere is only briefly dispelled by a forceful presto passage towards the end – though the music finally subsides into a languid coda.
from notes by Stephen Coombs © 2005