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aBritish Symphonies
4CDs £16 post-free

 

W.S. Bennett, Rootham, Moeran,
Bax, Rubbra, Rawsthorne, Berkeley
Alwyn, Grace Williams, Arnold, Wordsworth. Searle, Joubert


COMING SOON
Van Dieren Chinese Symphony
Searle Symphonies 3, 5
Shaw Piano Concertos 1 and 2

English Fantasy
£12 post-free

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Editor-in-Chief: Rob Barnett

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LINN RECORDS


Shostakovich 5, 8 9
Great concentration


Let me tell you
Stratospheric Barbara Hannigan
Birmingham and BBC Proms


Berkeley - Authenticity


Highly Expressive


NØRGÅRD Stunning


Superbly played


One to treasure


One of the finest American
choral-orchestral works


from strength to strength


inspired choice


Book and CD £12


Book + 4CDs £33

 

 

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Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Piano Quintet in E flat, Op. 44 [29:24]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34 [41:08]
Joyce Yang (piano)
Alexander String Quartet
rec. 2-5 April 2013, St Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Belvedere, California, USA
FOGHORN CLASSICS CD2014 [70:32]

On first listen, I thought, “I really, really like this CD”. Then I listened to the disc three times the first week. Each time, the music rang out in my head for hours or days afterward. Sometimes I stalked the performers online, wondering, “So have they recorded the Dvořák piano quintets too? What about the Fauré?” They haven’t. Then I started tallying up all the Alexander Quartet albums I now desperately want to purchase, and pitying my poor wallet.
 
All that is a long way of saying that this is an excellent CD. There’s no doubt about it. The Schumann is vibrant, lively, exuberantly cheerful, with a healthy fullness and muscle. Pianist Joyce Yang leads the charge in the exciting scherzo, especially. Brahms’ quintet is played to show the players’ versatility: aggressive and tender and coolly focused in turn, with impeccable judgment. The scherzo, again, simply catches fire.
 
As for the Alexander String Quartet: up till now I had led a pitifully sheltered, ASQ-free life. My MusicWeb International colleagues have been praising them for years: those links contain phrases like “unfailingly fresh and musically compelling,” “passes my ‘desert island’ test,” and “inspired performances”. My colleague Byzantion says (in the third link) that “The ASQ - who last year celebrated their 30th anniversary - are hard to fault in any regard: their professionalism is immaculate, their ensemble experience huge and telling, their instrument mastery practically faultless.”
 
To those remarks I have nothing to add. This review is brief because its recommendation is simple. The recording, produced by Judith Sherman, is first-rate; the playing is uniformly first-rate; the artist group portrait is amusing; the need for follow-up albums is high. I do have competing releases for each of these often-recorded works, and you probably do too. To name one for each work: the Jerusalem Quartet with Alexander Melnikov for Schumann, and the Juilliard with Leon Fleisher in Brahms. You’d be forgiven for thinking that you don’t need one more. Just remember: there is always more room on the shelf for excellence.
 
Brian Reinhart