One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Louis SPOHR (1784-1859)
Complete String Quintets Volume 2

Quintet No.3 in B minor Op.69 (1826)
Quintet No.4 in A minor Op.91 (1833-34)
New Haydn Quartet with Sándor Papp (viola II)
Recorded April 1994 at the Unitarian Church, Budapest
NAXOS 8.555966 [63.44]

If Iím not mistaken Volume One in this series, which I reviewed here, was followed by Volume Three and now we backtrack for this one. All are, in any case, reissues of a Marco Polo series devoted to Spohrís Quartets and Quintets in commendably resilient performances given by the New Haydn Quartet (elsewhere the Danubius Quartet play a strong role in the series), augmented in the Quintets by their compatriot Sándor Papp.

The B minor Quintet dates from Spohrís first years in Kassel, a time of considerable renown for the virtuoso violinist composer, as his opera Jessonda and oratorio Die letzten Dinge had recently been performed to acclaim. The quatuor brillant style, of which Spohr was so established a master, is still evident in these works and the first violin is decidedly primus inter pares as well Ė in works Spohr would himself have played this is no surprise. He manages technical adroitness and expressive delicacy, maintaining in the first movement a good balance between the pensive and the fresh and vests the Scherzo with a confident if avuncular drive. As the notes rightly say the slow movement, taken at good and forward-moving tempo here, has a hymnal quality about it, the first violin also soaring high above the reflective material. The finale is a touch long winded but affable and beautifully lucid in compositional terms - a barcarolle-like movement that often moves into the major but that ends with quiescent, almost quizzical introspection.

The later A minor Quintet rather lacks those qualities that make the B minor so attractive and despite the valiant efforts of Keith Warsop, Chairman of the Spohr Society of Great Britain in his notes, this is a less rewarding work to which to listen. Spohrís affinity of and mastery over the elastic melody in his writing is evident of course, but the thematic material is not quite as august as the B minor. There is undeniably a certain purity to the profile of the Larghetto and sufficient contrast to keep it alive but the most consistently inventive movement is the lively and eventful Minuetto and Scherzo Ėwith its unexpected and unusual form. The finale is bright and airy with a well-judged fugal section.

Sound quality is good; on balance slightly preferable to the first volume where there was a slight congestion in the inner voices. Spohrís chamber music deserves revaluation and despite my relative lack of enthusiasm for the later Quintet that shouldnít dissuade you from investigating this series.

Jonathan Woolf

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Chopin Bruce Liu

Ingeneri Volume 2

Mondonville - Titon et L'Aurore

Telemann - French Cantatas 1


March 2022

Brahms Symphony 4
MacMillan Larghetto for Orchestra

Bruch Violin Concertos

Debussy Preludes Book 2

Jan-Peter de GRAAFF
Cello Concertos

La Nuit étoilé
Berlioz. Holmes


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
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.