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Schumann, Dvorak: Piano Quintets / Schnabel, Et Al


Release Date: 04/03/2007 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1196   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Robert SchumannAntonín Dvorák
Performer:  Alphonse OnnouArtur SchnabelLaurent HalleuxGermain Prévost,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E?, op. 44. DVO?ÁK Piano Quintet in A, op. 81 Artur Schnabel (pn); Pro Arte Qrt MUSIC & ARTS ADD 1196 (62:56)


It’s good to see this pair of recordings back in the catalog, again, along with the Schubert “Trout” Quintet, on Music & Arts 1173. That was made in 1935; this pair of piano quintets were recorded a year before. In a previous review of the Read more Schumann performance on a new deleted Andante set ( Fanfare 26:1), I called it “transparently light but passionate . . . with all five performers sharing equally in the proceedings,” and tentatively credited Schnabel with the emotional intensity that is one of that performance’s salient features. My opinion of it hasn’t changed in nearly five years. Ignoring the occasional portamentos (more a feature of the times than of the Pro Arte musicians, who in any case use less of it than most of their recorded contemporaries), this is lean, focused Schumann-playing, the music’s lyricism harnessed to a taut structural logic that is never abandoned. Of equal importance is the intensity of five first-rate musicians working as one. The Pro Arte and Schnabel show a level of coherence that chamber musicians of any period could aspire to, stylistic differences to one side.


The Dvo?ák is nearly as good, with a charged opening Allegro, an exquisitely shaded Dumka, and a feather-light Scherzo. The Pro Arte Quartet is an especial delight to hear in the last, where their elegance, energy, and buoyant rhythms keep the entire movement aloft through subtle variations in tempo where some other performances can’t relax without sagging. But as a matter of personal taste, I find the finale a bit hard-driven, with insufficient variety in the side episodes, though it certainly has exuberance to spare.


The new re-masterings achieve a good frequency spread with minimal interference to the basic sound. A small treble cut should aid in reducing the wiriness of the strings on some systems; otherwise, the Pro Arte violins sound forward and surprisingly attractive, given the date of issue. Nothing is going to turn either of these recordings into relatively late mono, much less digital surround sound, but Music & Arts deserves a round of applause for what they’ve achieved with these mid-1930s albums. Recommended? But of course.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Quintet for Piano and Strings in E flat major, Op. 44 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Alphonse Onnou (Violin), Artur Schnabel (Piano), Laurent Halleux (Violin),
Germain Prévost (Viola), Robert Maas (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/11/1934 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio 3, London, England 
Length: 30 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
2.
Quintet for Piano and Strings no 2 in A major, Op. 81/B 155 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Laurent Halleux (Violin), Germain Prévost (Viola), Robert Maas (Cello),
Alphonse Onnou (Violin), Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 02/11/1934 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio 3, London, England 
Length: 32 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 

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