Russia in the nineteenth century had little need for chamber music - no Parisian-style competitive quartetting here. But out of this very isolation came a small, but nonetheless mighty, handful of works: those by Borodin are among the finest. Piers Lane and the Goldner String Quartet revel in what they find.
The late chamber music of fin de siècle English composer Edward Elgar is as melodic and personal as any he ever wrote, but because it is also more emotionally elusive than his earlier symphonies and concertos, his chamber music is much less frequently performed and recorded. This disc by members of London's Nash Ensemble coupling the three-movement, 25-minute-long Violin Sonata in E minor with the three-movement, nearly 40-minute-long Piano Quintet in A minor is a wonderful introduction to both works.
The Brodsky Quartet presents this second volume in its exploration of Brahms’s complete string quartets. The first, which also featured the Clarinet Quintet with Michael Collins, received numerous enthusiastic reviews, The Guardian praising the players for their ‘immaculate’ performance. The String Quartet, Op. 51 No. 1, featured here, was written alongside its contrasting companion, Op. 51 No. 2. Both were finally published in 1873 after having been held back for years by a typically self-doubting Brahms, until he had brought them to his own high standards of perfection.
The peerless Takacs Quartet recently nominated for a Gramophone award for their second disc of Brahms's string quartets, continue their exploration of the Romantic chamber music tradition with this disc of Schumann. The Piano Quintet is by far Schumann's most popular chamber work and one of the most beloved works in the genre. Schumann was the first romantic composer to pair the piano with the string quartet. Schumann studied the string quartets of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn and his quartet Op. 41 No. 3 demonstrates these influences. However, it contains many highly original strokes, particularly the casting of the scherzo as a set of variations. The Takacs Quartet are joined by Marc-Andre Hamelin in an invigorating partnership that has already been widely acclaimed on the concert platform.
Franck’s Piano Quintet and Debussy’s String Quartet make an apt and unusual coupling, each work its composer’s only, unsurpassable, contribution to the genre. Both receive authoritative performances from Marc-André Hamelin and the Takács Quartet.