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     String Quintets

Romantic Belgian Chamber Music

Koch-Schwann Musique en Wallonie MEW0423

François-Joseph Fétis

String Quintet #1 in A minor (1859) 1
Grand Sextet (1818) 2,3
Sonata #1 for Piano 4-Hands in A Major 2
Sonata #2 for Piano 4-Hands in D Major 2
Sonata #3 for Piano 4-Hands in G Major 2

1 Michel Collin & André Martin, violins
1 Guy Decleire & Louis Logie, viola
1 Edmond Baert, cello
2 Dominique Cornil & Olivier Gardon, piano 4-hands
3 Veronique Bogaerts & François Chamberlan, violins
3 Paul de Clerck, viola
3 Hans Mannes, cello
Koch-Schwann Musique en Wallonie MEW0423 77:52

Born into a Belgian family of instrument makers and musicians, Fétis became perhaps the most important music historian and musicologist of the 19th century, as well as an influential critic. Though his writings were encyclopedic, his compositional output was relatively sparse.

His chamber music consists of three string quartets, three string quintets, the sextet included here (scored for the unusual combination of piano 4-hands, 2 violins, viola & cello) and a few other pieces, including these 4-hand piano sonatas from 1819. All of the works are finely crafted, and often quite beautiful. The performances are committed and first rate. Hard to find, but worth the trouble.

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

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

Sparking Scherzo

Naxos 8.570256

Alexander Glazunov

Five Novelettes, Op. 15 (1886)
String Quintet in A Major, Op. 39 (1891-2)

Nathaniel Rosen, cello
Fine Arts Quartet
Naxos 8.570256 63:28

Glazunov has been quite well served on CD with his Violin Concerto and his symphonies being frequently recorded. He also wrote a lot of chamber music, of which the two examples on this disc are relatively rare. The novelette as a musical form was invented by Schumann and it seems the word can mean whatever you want it to mean. In Glazunov's case, the novelette is a miniature with considerable charm and without pretensions to be deep and meaningful. The quintet, his only work in this form, is a more serious affair including one of his trademark sparkling scherzos.

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

[ Sheet music for the Quintet: Edition Silvertrust ]

Melodious, Energetic and Emotionally Stirring

CPO 999352-2

Ethel Mary Smyth

String Quartet in E minor (41:40)
String Quintet Op. 1 in E Major (26:28)

Joachim Griesheimer, cello
Mannheimer String Quartet
CPO 999352-2

This difficult-to-find disc is certainly worth searching for. Dame Ethyl Smyth was a very outspoken champion of women's rights and women composers. She studied with Herzogenberg and received encouragement from Brahms and Clara Schumann.

Smyth composed this powerful, mature and captivating string quartet in two time periods, the first two movements in 1902 and the rest in 1912. The form is classical; the sound is very Late Romantic, melodious, energetic and emotionally stirring. It is performed with excellence by the members of the Mannheimer String Quartet: Andreas Krecher and Claudia Hohorst, violins; Niklas Schwarz, viola; and Armin Fromm, violoncello.

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

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]