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Piano Quintet in A, D.667 (1819) [35:02]
Piano Trio no.1 in B flat, op.99 (D.898) (1827) [37:56]
The Schubert Ensemble (Simon Blendis (violin); Douglas Paterson
(viola); Jane Salmon (cello); Peter Buckoke (double bass); William
rec. Champs Hill Music Room, Potton Hall, Sussex, England, 7-8 November
2003; 21 November 2003 (Quintet). DDD.
CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD007 [72:58]
This CD was originally released in 2004 on the now subsumed
ASV label (GLD 4000), although the booklet does not mention
the fact. Champs Hill, who existed at that time only as a recording
venue, have essentially re-issued the recordings with new notes
by Joanna Wyld. It may seem commercial folly to put out yet
another version of these two works, yet if a group calling themselves
the Schubert Ensemble cannot record Schubert - and stick a trout
on the CD cover for good measure - where would the world be?
Nonetheless, the 'Trout' in particular has been recorded so
many times, and is available in so many high-quality interpretations,
that this new old version may flounder for an audience, particularly
on a disc priced at the higher end of the scale.
The Quintet is a work that has attracted considerable critical
opprobrium over the decades, and still does in some quarters
- its simplicity and affability, compounded by Schubert's liberal
- some say shameless! - employment of repeats, are all too much
for certain, more refined tastes. However, the general public
has always loved it, and not merely for the delightfully singable
fourth movement variations. The Piano Trio in B flat is a good
choice for pairing with the Quintet. It is reminiscent of it
from time to time, but musically is the greater work - one of
Schubert's most memorable indeed, at least among the chamber
works with piano. Among its numerous highlights is the unforgettable
melody of the Andante.
Now established for well over a quarter of a century, the Schubert
Ensemble have gone from strength to strength since this recording
was made. Their make-up is still unchanged, and their recent
recording for Chandos of George Enescu's Piano Quartets, also
done at Champs Hill, was well received - see review.
On this disc their phrasing throughout is splendidly expressive,
their technique excellent and their limning of textures unbeatable.
Their accounts of both the Quintet and, in reduced numbers,
the Trio may not stand out as strikingly individual - this earlier
lists some of the more flamboyant alternatives to both works
- but their sophistication is incontestable. If all else fails,
what other recording offers a Salmon playing a Trout?
Sound quality is good, though not unfailingly crystal-clear
- there is a slightly muffled quality to the piano in particular
that will not be to all tastes, although only really affecting
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