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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    



Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
String Quartet in D minor D810 "Death and the Maiden"

Gabrieli Quartet
Piano Quintet in A D667 "The Trout"

Moura Lympany piano
Principals of the London Symphony Orchestra;
John Brown violin
Alexander Taylor viola
Douglas Cummings cello
Thomas Martin double bass
Recorded Conway Hall, London 1971 (String Quartet) and March 1974 (Piano Quintet)
EMI Classics for Pleasure 724357488624 [77.07]


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There is about these performances a kind of plainness and directness of utterance that never precludes reserves of feeling. Both, to some degree, share this quality. The finer performance is that of the Gabrieli, in 1971, near or maybe at the beginning of their distinguished career. They are reluctant to indulge tonal or expressive extremes and prefer instead flexibility and shading of contrasts. The Allegro is properly held together, elastic and supple - listen to Kenneth Sillito’s expressive playing at 11.08 for example - and the long Andante con moto benefits from secluded tone and searching musicianship. Very occasionally there is a temporary loss of intonation but this is more than outweighed by subtlety of rubato and tempo integration. There are many recordings in the catalogue and others combine virtuosity with tonal beauty and architectural strength but at super-budget price this Gabrieli performance emerges once again after thirty years its virtues undiminished.

The Trout features the ad-hoc combination of a pianist better known for her solo performances and symphonic principals – a recipe for musical disaster one would have thought. That this is not the case here is because of Lympany’s ebullience and the string players’ sometimes hectic cooperation. The aural perspective highlights the piano rather over brightly and the violin’s tone emerges a little wiry in the balance. It is certainly an energetic performance though one wanting in a little subtlety.

This very well filled disc, at super-budget price, commands real interest, especially for the Gabrieli’s Quartet performance.

Jonathan Woolf


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