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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


AVAILABILITY
www.brilliantclassics.com

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Chamber Music
details in the review
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 92181
[8 CDs: 65’10 + 71'33 + 69'51 + 69'42 + 72'53 + 53'53 + 46'44 + 66'32]

CD1
Piano Trios Op. 90 "Dumky" and 21
Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor Op. 90 "Dumky"
1. Lento maestoso-allegro 4'33 2. Poco adagio-vivace 6'34 3. Andante 5'53 4. Andante moderato 4'55 5. Allegro 4'03 6. Lento maestoso-vivace 4'53
Piano Trio No. 1 in B flat major Op. 21
7. Allegro molto 13'27 8. Adagio molto e mesto 7'33 9. Allegro scherzando 7'08 10. Finale, allegro vivace 6'11
The Solomon Trio: Daniel Adni, piano Rodney Friend, violin Raphael Sommer, cello
Total time - 65'10
CD2
Piano Trios Op. 65 and 26
Piano Trio No. 3 in F minor Op. 65
1. Allegro ma non troppo 13'57 2. Allegro grazioso 6'45 3. Poco adagio 9'12 4. Finale, allegro con brio 10'14
Piano Trio No. 2 in G minor Op. 26
5. Allegro moderato 12'22 6. Largo 6'19 7. Scherzo, presto 5'56 8. Finale, allegro non tanto 6'47
The Solomon Trio: Daniel Adni, piano Rodney Friend, violin Raphael Sommer, cello
Total time - 71'33
CD3
Piano Quartets
Piano Quartet in D major Op. 23
1. Allegro moderato 15'01 2. Andantino 9'39 3. Finale 7'49
Piano Quartet in E flat major Op. 87
4. Allegro con fuoco 8'33 5. Lento 11'11 6. Allegro moderato, grazioso 6'59 7. Finale 9'22
Ames Piano Quartet: William David, piano Mahlon Darlington, violin Laurence Burkhalter, viola George Work, cello
Recording: January 1989 Troy Savings Bank Concert Hall, Troy, USA
Released under non-exclusive licence of the Dorian Music Group Ltd
Total time - 69'51
CD4
Piano Quintets
Piano Quartet in A major Op. 5
1. Allegro ma non troppo 8'29 2. Andante sostenuto 11'03 3. Finale, allegro con brio 8'56
Piano Quartet in A major Op. 81
4. Allegro ma non tanto 13'47 5. Dumka, andante con moto 16'40 6. Scherzo, Furiant, molto vivace 3'46 7. Finale, allegro 7'01
Sviatoslav Richter, piano
Borodin Quartet: Mikhail Kopelman, violin I Andrei Abramenkov, violin II Dmitri Shebalin, viola Valentin Berlinsky, cello
Recording: 31 December 1982 Licensed from Pipeline Music Inc. USA
Total time - 69'42
CD5
String Quintets
String Quintet in G major Op. 77, for 2 violins, viola, cello and double-bass
1. Allegro con fuoco 12'27 2. Scherzo, allegro vivace-l'istesso tempo, quasi allegretto 9'22 3. Poco andante 8'42 4. Finale, allegro assai 7'40
String Quintet in E flat major Op. 97, for 2 violins, 2 violas and cello
5. Allegro non tanto 9'26 6. Allegro vivo 5'54 7. Larghetto 10'45 8. Finale, allegro giusto 8'12
Stamitz Quartet: Bohuslav Matousek, violin I Josef Kekula, violin II Jan Peruska, viola Vladimir Leixner, cello Jiri Hudec, double-bass (1-4) Jan Talich, viola (5-8)
Recording: March 1992, Prague Producer: Rudolf Bayer Licensed from Bayer
Total time - 72'53
CD6
Music for violin and piano I
1. Capriccio 9'45 2. Romance Op. 11 12'42 3. Nocturno Op. 40 6'38
Violin Sonata in F major Op. 57
4. Allegro ma non troppo 11'45 5. Poco sostenuto 6'45 6. Allegro molto 5'46
Bohuslav Matousek, violin Petr Adamec, piano
Recording: 27-30 December 1992, Prague Producer: Boris Kobrle Engineer: Tomas Zikmund Licensed from Bayer Records
Total time - 53'53
CD7
Dvorák
Music for violin and piano II
Sonatina in G major Op. 100
1. Allegro risoluto 5'52 2. Larghetto 4'02 3. Scherzo 2'56 4. Allegro 6'20 5. Ballade Op. 15 6'06
Romantische Stücke Op. 75
6. Allegro moderato 3'24 7. Allegro maestoso 2'42 8. Allegro appassionato 2'27 9. Larghetto 6'01 10. Mazurka Op. 49 6'03
Bohuslav Matousek, violin Petr Adamec, piano
Recording: 27-30 December 1992, Prague Producer: Boris Kobrle Engineer: Tomas Zikmund Licensed from Bayer Records
Total time - 46'44
CD8
Serenade / Hausmusik
1. Rondo for cello and piano in G minor Op. 94, allegretto grazioso 7'43
Drobnosti Op. 75a, for 2 violins and viola 2. Cavatina, moderato 3'56 3. Capriccio, poco allegro 2'22 4. Romanza, allegro 3'29 5. Elegia, larghetto 4'30 6. Gavotte in G minor for 3 violins: allegretto scherzando 2'41
Bagatelles Op. 47 for 2 violins, cello and harmonium
7. Allegretto scherzando 2'59 8. Tempo di menuetto, grazioso 3'16 9. Allegretto scherzando 2'56 10. Canon, andante con moto 3'27 11. Poco allegro 4'21
Serenade for 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 3 horns, cello and double bass in D minor Op. 44
12. Moderato, alla Marcia 4'17 13. Minuetto 6'08 14. Andante con moto 8'35 15. Allegro molto 6'13
Robert Cohen, cello (1) Roger Vignoles, piano (1) Alberni String Quartet (6-11) Howard Davis, violin Peter Pople, violin Roger Best, violin/viola David Smith, cello Virginia Black, harmonium Nash Ensemble (12-15)
Licensed from CRD Records, UK
Total time - 66'32


The Brilliant boxes come thick and fast, regrouping the catalogue in inventive ways, hunter-gathering the obscure, the better known and all prey in between. Sometimes there are weaknesses and the good is balanced by the weaker but here most things are more than welcome and the eight discs show a commendable standard throughout. We have the well known in the shape of the Borodin Quartet and Richter’s troubled Quintets, and the Alberni and Nash Ensembles make their considerable presence felt, alongside a snippet of Robert Cohen and Roger Vignoles. The Solomon Trio’s recordings are revivified and the American Ames Piano Quartet are deft instructors which leaves two discs of the violin music in the very capable hands of Matousek and Adamec.

Let’s list some highlights. Bohuslav Matousek and Petr Adamec have a quarter of the set to themselves with two volumes devoted to the violin and piano music (Matousek reappears later with the Stamitz Quartet so he’s a big presence). I like their performances. Matousek has made quite a show in the catalogues and I remember with particular pleasure his Brahms and Martinů concertos; here he is just as idiomatic. He is not as ripely expressive as an older colleague – Snítil, say, in the Romantic Pieces in his 1983 recordings with Josef Hála – but nor is he as aloof as some of his younger Czech contemporaries in this repertoire. Instead he strikes a judicious balance. The Sonatina is charmingly played and excellently scaled – and he takes a particularly good tempo in the tricky Larghetto of the Romantic Pieces, adding a bustly Mazurka Op.49 and Ballade Op.15 for good measure (even though this disc is rather short measure at 46 minutes). The Capriccio is mighty difficult to bring off without it sounding horribly out of tune but Matousek sticks to his guns and turns in a delicate and effective performance of the Romance, better known perhaps in its guise for solo violin and orchestra (Suk, Perlman et al). The Sonata is buoyant with a fine lyric cantilena in the slow movement; Matousek will certainly appeal to those who appreciate sparing and judiciously applied vibrato.

There’s an English take on the Czech master in the Serenade and Hausmusik disc. Cohen and Vignoles are given a bit of an unsympathetically resonant acoustic and this does impart a degree of nasality into the cellist’s tone in the Rondo. Otherwise there’s a spirited Gavotte for three violins and the ever-delightful Bagatelles. Drobnosti are here in their chamber form – they’re actually the Four Violin Pieces in expanded form, played with tonal wit and variety by the members of the Alberni Quartet. The Nash Ensemble distinguishes itself in the sprightly Serenade, especially in the delightful rhythm and sonority it cultivates in the Minuetto. The Trios are given over to the Solomon Trio, well-known musicians. Rodney Friend is better known as an elite leader/concertmaster and Daniel Adni as a sensitive chamber player, as was the late Raphael Sommer. These are good performances though I don’t much like the acoustic in which they’ve been recorded. It seems to me that it separates Friend’s violin and that string ensemble is rather compromised aurally – though it wasn’t necessarily so in the studio. Friend’s tone is rather steely, maybe as a result, and the trio can be reserved – as in the Allegro of the famous Dumky (Op.90). They can’t do much with the first movement of the Op.1 Trio – it’s over-ambitiously long – but they do find a sweet lyricism in its slow movement. Sommer is at his most eloquent in the F minor Trio and the whole group finds vigour and animation in the G minor, where they are robust in the finale; overall these won’t live with the best performances but they are relatively sympathetic.

The Ames Piano Quartet are precise and musicianly in their traversals of the two Piano Quartets – no rich larva portamento here. Their discreet playing is enjoyable, even though they’re not quite fully on top of the long and awkward first movement of the Op.23. They do generate a fine drive in the Allegro con fuoco of Op.87 and do well by the weirdly Turkish sounding third movement; altogether attractive ensemble. The String Quintets are safe in the hands of the Stamitz Quartet and guests double bassist Jiři Hudec and violist Jan Talich. With Matousek leading we are treated to a lithe, bright and elegant performance of the G minor. They don’t get bogged down in the slow movement and are rhythmically astute in the finale and very natural sounding, generating a Mendelssohn Octet-type drive and drama. If anything the companion Quintet is even better. The opening movement of the E flat major is saturated in the Dumka and the quintet, joined by the superb Talich, conjures up a rich tonal brew throughout – and listen to the rapt delicacy at the end. Their Larghetto is wistful rather than lachrymose and the finale animated, perky, intensely alive and gloriously sprung.

Which leaves the Piano Quintets, with the Borodin and Richter. These were taped on the last day of December 1982. They certainly inflate the early Op.5 to majestic proportions. It’s a big-boned, heavyweight reading and Kopelman’s violin tone is sometimes a bit raw in the struggle – but Richter is wonderful in his statements in the Andante and the finale goes with animation. The famous A major is certainly individual and won’t be to the liking of those who revere, say, Curzon and the Vienna recording. The Russians open with a sense of an intimate lullaby and take some quixotic tempi along the way, along with moments of arresting delicacy. There is something funereal about their second movement – this is altogether a dark, foresty, Grimm Brothers performance – and it’s extremely slow and then suddenly frantic, with Kopelman’s vibrato taking on a rather extraordinary intensity. The finale is Furiant to the last degree. Quite an amazing performance - a real narrative. I’m not sure I liked it but it’s pretty damn unignorable.

A most diverting box, then; notes are, as per house style, brief though helpful, and the 8 discs are housed in a nice, slim box. I’d rate Matousek and the Stamitz highly; the Nash too, some of the others somewhat less but nothing to compromise the set. The Borodin/Richter is obviously a big draw but it’s very personalised.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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