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Radioservis (Czech Republic)


Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Piano Quintet in E flat major op. 44 [30:18]
Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
Piano Quintet No. 2 H298 (1944) [31:54]
Michiko Otaki (piano)
Graffe String Quartet
rec. Czech Radio, Brno, 24-26 July 2007. DDD
RADIOSERVIS CR0385-2 [62:18]
Experience Classicsonline

Two four movement piano quintets separated in time by a century.
The Schumann is smilingly done with the Graffe Quartet capitalising on the work’s lucid and sauntering insouciance as much as on its graveness. The lively acoustic warms the notes and lends the music a certain baritonal emphasis.
The Martinů is classic stuff from the ferment of his early American years. This is music that yearns and lilts at speed. It is bound to prompt memories of the Fourth Symphony in the first and third movements. The Adagio is almost Mozartian in its classical poise.  There is heartfelt lamentation in the finale which recalls Josef Suk at his most soulful (St Wenceslas Meditation) although this later gives way to pages of Martinů at his most quirky. Finally we hear the return of Martinů the hunted, Martinů the frenetic.
This version of the Martinů quintet can be compared with an alternative recording in which the Martinů Quartet and Karel Kosarek recorded both Piano Quintets alongside the Sonata for two violin and piano (Naxos 8.557861). The Naxos version gives a lower profile to the piano and is faster in the quick movements. The present disc accords the music a noticeably more virile, immediate and forthright edge although the all-Martinů coupling of the Naxos disc gives it an edge with that composer’s growing number of adherents.
A very fine reading of the Martinů and a mainstream romantic version of the Schumann.
Rob Barnett


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