52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
(currently suspended)


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Bruno Monteiro (violin)

More Preludes to Chopin
Kenneth Hamilton (piano)

Gloriæ Dei Cantores

Special Price and we are still delivering

Recordings of the Month


Feinberg Piano Sonatas

Schoenberg Violin Concerto

Early Keyboard

Nun Danket Alle Gott
Now Everyone Thanks God


Haydn Scottish Songs

Choral Music

Liszt Sonata

Renaissance Bohemia


Hahn Complete Songs

Piano Sonatas 6,7,8 Osborne


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Piano Quintet No.1 in D minor, Op.89 (1887-1906) [30:59]
Piano Quintet No.2 in C minor, Op.115 (1919-1921) [32:17]
Fine Arts Quartet (Ralph Evans, Efim Boico (violins), Yuri Gandelsman (viola), Wolfgang Laufer (cello)); Cristina Ortiz (piano)
rec. December 2007, Purchase College, New York, USA
NAXOS 8.570938 [63:24]
Experience Classicsonline

Fauré's Piano Quintets are very different from his more popular Piano Quartets, which were written much earlier and storm the heights and depths of High Romanticism. The Quintets are sublime, but elusive. They are warm and comfy, like climbing with your feet into an armchair in front of a fireplace. The emotions are reticent, all is calm, you sense the soft smile of a wise old man. Sometimes it is a sad smile, a sorrow, a regret.

Unusually the piano part sings with the string parts. This is no concerto for piano and reduced orchestra. Here, the performers work together to create a perfect, seamless blend. Sometimes the piano part is purposefully sparse, economical - its utterances calculated with precise craft. All this results in an hour of ethereal sonorities, which will deliver great pleasure once you stop looking for contrast between movements.

The two Quintets have gentle autumnal qualities that may remind of the late clarinet chamber pieces of Brahms. The opening movement of the First Quintet is somewhat Brahmsian, yet it radiates a singing beauty that only the French knew how to produce. The long Adagio that follows is more subdued and melancholic, yet its climaxes are highly emotional, and its quiet moments are magical. The last movement, a scherzo and finale in one, starts with a distant echo of Eroica variations, with subsequent episodes that are by turns ecstatic, stormy and sunny. Finally, the swirling coda swirls all the notes into one bold D-major.

Although the Quintet No.2 was written when Fauré was 75, it shows no decrease in vigor, sharp wit, or inspiration. The first movement is unmistakable Fauré. It is so similar emotionally to the first movement of the first Quintet that it is hard to believe that fifteen years have passed, a war has swept through France, and Les Six have started their collaboration. The formal structure is complex, but in the master's hands this complexity is transparent: the metamorphoses of music seem to obey the hidden laws of nature. The Scherzo second movement looks even further back, to the Piano Quartets of forty years before. After all, Fauré was the father of the "French scherzo", employed by Debussy and Ravel in their chamber pieces. Now the music is drier, and for a long time there is a sense of expectation for a big romantic resolution which does not arrive until the very last measures. This is suspense without climax - an enthralling effect, like watching a swift, turbulent stream.

The slow movement is a vast, quasi-static tableau. It has a feeling of timelessness, reminiscent of Beethoven's Song of Thanksgiving from Op.132. When it is over, and the finale starts, it is like emerging from a hypnotic trance. And what a gloomy wakening it is. The more cheerful moments are like nostalgic memories, or viewing the emotions of youth from the vantage point of old age. The cold, bumpy rolling of the piano part underlines the fatalism. The sun often breaks through the clouds and the coda brings bright sunlight. Thus the Quintet ends on an optimistic note, though that's not what remains in mind: the wind and rain remain. This belongs amongst the most memorable music you can find in the chamber realm.

When I took this disc for review I was interested whether someone could trounce my old favorite - Domus on Hyperion (CDA66766, rec.1994). And the answer is - yes and no. 'No' - in tone, but probably 'yes' in intensity, especially in the Second Quintet. The Hyperion recording has a certain clear-water sound that is not easily explained. Imagine drinking from the most fresh forest source: you can drink, and drink, and still want more, and not get tired. I don't know how the Domus (plus Anthony Marwood on 2nd violin) achieved this, but that's the feeling I have. On the Naxos disc, the piano of Christina Ortiz has similar transparent delicacy, but the string instruments have more ordinary sound, which, listening for an hour, can tend to tire the listener.

On the other hand, this is just a matter of tone, a personal preference. Objectively I cannot pinpoint a weak spot in this Naxos incarnation. The quintets are played with great devotion, showing fine balance and rich in delicate nuance. The ensemble is perfect, which is as expected from such an experienced group as the Fine Arts. The differences from Domus/Marwood are more noticeable in the Second Quintet, where I prefer the choices made by the Fine Arts and Ortiz. The recording quality is first class, both clean and atmospheric.

Another fine disc from Naxos.

Oleg Ledeniov

see also reviews by Ian Lace and Kevin Sutton



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review 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.