One of the most grown-up review sites around

2020
54,196 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                     Editor in Chief: John Quinn              

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements


Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


TROUBADISC

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


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10


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

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
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Piano Quintet in f minor (1878-9) [38:19]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Harmonies Poétiques et Réligieuses (1845-52): 1V. Pensée des morts [16:53]; 1X. Andante lagrimoso [8:37]
Ave Maria [5:33]
Sviatoslav Richter (piano)
Borodin Quartet (Franck)
rec. December 1981, Pushkin Museum, Moscow (Franck); September 1984, Kloster Polling, Germany
PHILIPS PRESTO CD 4321422 [70:03]

I first became acquainted with these recordings in the days when our local library boasted an extensive recorded music section, which I regularly frequented. Unfortunately, in the name of progress, this little avenue of pleasure has now been closed off. Originally issued in 1991, this release has long been deleted, but thanks to a licensing agreement between Universal and Presto Classical of Leamington Spa, UK, it is back in circulation via a Manufacture on Demand service. I was amazed at the size of their back catalogue, but didn’t know what to expect. I needn’t have worried. The copies are identical to the originals, and the artwork and booklet notes are faithfully reproduced.

The Franck Piano Quintet is a performance of immense ardour and vigour, in which the players luxuriate in the lushness and melodic wealth of the composer’s writing. It’s a reading of emotional urgency that certainly packs a punch. Rarely have I heard such heartfelt passion and drama. The wistful calm and autumnal glow of the slow movement is spellbinding, and provides a contrast to the more heated and intense outer movements. Ideal balance between piano and strings adds to the overwhelming success of the performance.

What drew me to this CD when I first encountered it all those years ago was the 17 minute Pensée des morts, the fourth piece of Liszt’s Harmonies Poétiques et Réligieuses; it’s certainly the star of the show here. I had always admired Alfred Brendel’s 1976 Philips recording of this piece, that is until I’d heard the great Russian pianist’s take on it. Richter also plays the ninth piece of the set, Andante lagrimoso. The Ave Maria is not the B flat one (no. 2) from the set, but one dating from 1862 in E major. His profound and probing accounts of these rarely heard works set these performances apart. In Pensée des morts he expresses the deep sorrow and spirituality of the music without resorting to sentimentality. In the arpeggiated chords of the big tune in the second half, he achieves a transcendentally luminous tone. It is regrettable that Richter never took the Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude (no. 3) into his repertoire. This is probably my favourite piano work by any composer.

I’m not too sure whether Philips got their dates and venues correct for these recordings. They were certainly all recorded live, though this isn’t indicated. In the two Richter discographies that I have, the Franck dates from 13 December 1986, and was taped in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. The Liszt recordings date from 17 August 1982.

These are truly remarkable recordings, in fine sound. Neither the Borodin Quartet nor Richter made commercial recordings of the works on offer, which adds to their value and importance. The live situation does confer that extra element of spontaneity and freshness on the music-making. Booklet notes are in English, German, French and Italian. All I can do is thank Presto for restoring these distinguished performances to the fold.

Stephen Greenbank



 

 



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

 

Recordings of the Month

November


Symphonies 1, 2, 3

 

October


Aho Symphony 5


Dowland - A Fancy


MÄNTYJÄRVI - Choral


Rachmaninov_ Babayan

September


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


TAKEMITSU MESSIAEN


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Schubert Symphony 9