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Chamber Music: September 2008 Archives

Virtuoso Spanish Dances

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Naxos 8.557767

Pablo Sarasate
(1844-1908)

Spanish Dance, Op. 21 #1 "Malagueña"
Spanish Dance, Op. 21 #2 "Habañera"
Spanish Dance, Op. 22 #1 "Romanza andaluza"
Spanish Dance, Op. 22 #2 "Jóta Navarra"
Spanish Dance, Op. 23 #1 "Playera"
Spanish Dance, Op. 23 #2 "Zapateado"
Spanish Dance, Op. 26 #1
Spanish Dance, Op. 26 #2
Balada, Op. 31
Caprice basque, Op. 24
Jota aragonesa, Op. 27
Sérénade andalouse, Op. 28

Tian-wa Yang, violin
Markus Hadulla, piano
Naxos 8.557767

This disc is an explosion of virtuosity. The very young Tian-wa Yang, prize-winning violinist, plays with total control, assurance, beautiful tone, and rhythmic clarity. The Sarasate pieces call for almost every type of fancy violin playing: they are like a catalog of spectacular effects for both left hand and right. But these pieces are more than just rapid displays of technical skill. They present a true musical experience – they lift the spirits and make the listener feel like dancing.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by Sarasate: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Hindemith's String Quartets

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CPO 999287

Paul Hindemith
(1895-1963)

String Quartet in C Major, Op. 2 (1915)
String Quartet in F minor, Op. 10 (1918)
String Quartet in C Major, Op. 16 (1920)
String Quartet, Op. 22 (1921)
String Quartet, Op. 32 (1923)
String Quartet in E Flat Major (1943)
String Quartet in E Flat Major (1945)

The Danish Quartet
CPO 999287-2 3CDs

The first string quartet quartet, Opus 2, 1915 was written while Hindemith was still a student. It is full of the lush string writing most characteristic of the Late Romantic period. This quartet was long believed lost and was only published for the first time in 1994. The style is unique among Hindemith's string quartets.

After writing that quartet, Hindemith quickly developed his own individual sound which is energetic and often quite busy. Although his style sounds nothing at all like Baroque music, he frequently utilizes forms and contrapuntal devices of that period, and he displays much rhythmic vitality. Since Hindemith was also a string player, his compositions are all especially full of interest for the players, and generous to inner voices.

The excellent performers on this three-disc set are Tim Frederiksen and Arne Balk-Møller, violins; Gert-Inge Andersson, viola; and Henrik Brendstrup, cello – forming The Danish Quartet.

For much more information about the numbering of the quartets (old and new) as well as as interesting material about this prolific and fascinating composer, visit the Hindemith Foundation

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music for these works: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Pinnacle of a Composer's Style

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Northern Flowers 9954

Nikolai Yakovlievich Myaskovsky
(1881-1950)

Complete String Quartets, Volume 5
String Quartet #12 in G Major, Op. 77
String Quartet #13 in A minor, Op. 86

Taneyev Quartet
Northern Flowers 9954 54:40

Russian Disc, in the early 1980's released all 13 of the Myaskovsky string quartets performed by the Taneyev Quartet (Vladamir Ovcharek, violin; Grigory Lutzky, violin; Vissarion Solovyev, viola and Josef Levinzon, cello). They have been unavailable for some time. Now Northern Flowers and the Saint Petersburg Musical Alliance have re-released these fine discs. It is cause for celebration!

The Quartets #12 and #13 are perhaps the most accessible of the quartets. The style is rich and the part writing is splendid – something interesting is always going on in each voice. There is Russian flavor, but it is atmospheric, not in a direct quotation of folk material. If you enjoy the quartets of Prokofiev and Shostakovich, you will most certainly find much to please you in this disc of Myaskovsky's quartets.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com
  Sheet Music Parts for Quartet #8 can be found at Editions Silvertrust ]

Twilight of the Romantics

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Çedille CDR90000088

Walter Rabl
(1873-1940)

Quartet in E Flat Major for Clarinet, Violin, Cello & Piano (1896) 24:20

Josef Labor
(1842-1924)

Quintet in D major for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello & Piano, Op. 11 (1900) 33:13

Orion Ensemble
Çedille CDR90000088

Ever since Wolfgang Mozart's Kegelstadt Trio (K498), the musical combination of clarinet, strings and piano has been known to be a most felicitous chamber music sound. One is tempted to compare the works on this CD to Brahms' own Clarinet Quintet. That would be a mistake. These works can be judged on their own merits and will richly reward the listener. However it wouldn't be wrong to notice that there must have been strong Brahmsian inspiration.

I am most partial to Labor's quintet, especially the variations in the fourth movement. The entire quintet flows along gracefully, wistfully, and with the greatest charm.

The Orion Ensemble, (Jennifer Marias, Viola; Kathryne Pirtle, Clarinet; Florentina Ramniceanu, Violin; Diana Schmück, Piano; Judy Stone, Cello), have given us excellent performances of both works.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Master of the Wind Quintet

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Naxos 8.554228

Antonín Rejcha
(1770-1836)

Wind Quintet in C minor, Op. 91 #6
Wind Quintet in F Major, Op. 88 #6

Michael Thompson Wind Quintet
Naxos 8.554228 68:41

Variously known as Antonín, Antoine or Anton Rejcha or Reicha, this Bohemian composer is probably best known for his works for wind quintet. They are unfailingly tuneful and genial, and give each of the instruments its place in the spotlight. The above CD is but one of a number of Rejcha CDs on Naxos by this ensemble, and all are worthy of investigation. There are also quintets available on CPO.

Rejcha wrote in a number of genres including a number of symphonies that have been released on several Czech labels such as Panton, concertos, choral works and operas: you may need to work harder than usual to track these down, but the rewards are worth it.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Chamber Works by Weingartner

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CPO 777049

Felix Weingartner
(1863-1942)

Sextet Op. 33 in E minor (41:04)
Octet Op. 73 in G Major (35:35)

Oliver Triendl, pianist
Ensemble Acht
CPO 777049-2

Felix Weingartner, known to recorded classical music fans until now only as a conductor, (and perhaps also as the orchestrator of the Beethoven Hammerklavier Sonata, Op. 106) had nevertheless written an impressive number of compositions. Among his works are seven symphonies, overtures, operas, tone poems, five string quartets and other chamber music. It is almost unbelievable that these works have been so long neglected!

This Sextet, scored for piano, two violins, viola, cello and double bass, is performed by the Ensemble Acht members – Christoph Schickendanz, Annette Fehrmann, Antonia Siegers, Ingo Zander, and Stephan Schäfer, plus pianist Oliver Triendl.

The first movement is an exciting and voluptuous waltz with a second theme reminiscent of a very tender melody from Richard Strauss' Death and Transfiguration. The scherzo-like second movement is delightfully mysterious. The more somber third movement "in the style of an improvisation" and the "funeral dance" of the last movement round out this impressive, richly scored, melodious, expressive, and dramatic work.

Also not to be missed on this disc: the Octet Op. 73 for clarinet, horn, bassoon, two violins, viola, cello and piano. Especially recommended are the variations in the second movement.

I am very grateful to CPO for bringing so many of Weingartner's previously neglected compositions to us. His is a very important Late Romantic voice.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]
Trumpet