This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Glowing with rich colour throughout... Ashkenazy brings a masterly yet warm-hearted authority, lending this performance a special distinction.
The Decca performance of the Brahms Quintet by Ashkenazy and his American colleagues glows with rich colour throughout, partly because of the mellow interpretation but also because of the sweetness of the string tone; the recording in the Cleveland Masonic Auditorium seems to me well judged, too, and though a bit more distance might have given it still more atmosphere I found it most pleasing. The tonal subtlety of the playing may be judged at once in the hushed opening of the first movement, which is beautifully done, and another wholly different but equally effective kind of
soft playing, full of tension, is to be heard at the start of the scherzo. Furthermore, the kind of masterly yet warm-hearted authority which Ashkenazy brings to the chordal opening of the trio section of this same movement (at 3' 03'') lends the performance a special distinction. He and the Cleveland are also splendidly eloquent in the strange and somewhat elusive Poco sostenuto introduction to the finale, and what follows doesn't disappoint either; indeed, the high expectations which these artists have probably generated in a listener at the beginning of the whole Quintet are unlikely to be disappointed. It's worth adding, of course, that the warmth of the playing doesn't imply any lack of strength—in fact there are ample thrills and fine outpourings of power and it seems to me that the dramatic unfolding of this big work is admirably judged.
I have not yet mentioned the Clarinet Trio which opens the programme on this Decca issue, in which the clarinettist is the thoughtful Franklin Cohen. It's a late work which Brahms composed for the clarinettist Richard Muhlfeld in the same year as his better known and wonderfully autumnal Clarinet Quintet. This is minor-mode music in which melancholy seems never far away, but at the same time, as one of the composer's friends remarked, it is also 'as if the instruments were in love with each other'. Incidentally, although there are four movements there is no scherzo, and the Adagio second movement is followed by an Andante grazioso. This is another stylish performance, and the issue is thus a most desirable one, well worth its full price.
-- Christopher Headington, Gramophone
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