Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Antonin DVORÁK (1841-1904)
String Quintet in A minor, Opus 1
String Quintet in E flat major, Opus 97

Vlach Quartet, with Ladislav Kyselák (viola)
Rec 12th-13th April 1997, 30th-31st May 1997, Martínek Studio, Prague
NAXOS 8.553376 (65.04)
  AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Dvorák's E flat Quintet, Opus 97 is a product of his American years (the mid-1890s), and it is a work of great merit, the work of a master at the height of his powers. It is coupled here in a persuasive performance with his Opus 1, a piece for similar instrumental forces which he composed at the tender age of 19.

The A minor Quintet is in fact Dvorák's earliest surviving chamber composition. It is by no means a negligible achievement, since there is a real sincerity of expression and mastery of means over ends. These artists clearly feel so, and give a really committed interpretation, which is nicely recorded, too. In the final analysis the piece does not justify its time scale in terms of subtlety and integrity of development, but it is more than merely an oddity.

The E flat Quintet is quite another matter. For here is one of the great chamber works of the later 19th century, in an splendidly idiomatic performance too. The music has much in common with the contemporary New World Symphony and American Quartet, and it yields to neither in terms of quality. This performance brings out the music's depth of feeling; listen, for example, to the nostalgic coda to the first movement. While plenty of detail can be heard in the textures of the lively scherzo and finale, the approach might perhaps have been more robust and direct. This small caveat aside, this disc will give much pleasure to any lover of chamber music.

Terry Barfoot

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: