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Martinu, Schulhoff: String Sextets / Raphael Ensemble


Release Date: 06/10/2008 
Label:  Helios   Catalog #: 55321   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Erwin SchulhoffBohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Michael StirlingAndrea HessJames BoydSally Beamish,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Raphael Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MARTIn? Sextet. 3 Madrigals. SCHULHOFF Sextet Raphael Ens HELIOS 55321 (56:14)


This quickly became one of my favorite readings of the Martin? Sextet when it was first released back in the early 1990s. As it currently stands, it is also the only easily available recording of the original sextet version. (The composer approved an arrangement for string orchestra upon the work’s publication 14 years after its Read more composition, and that’s how the piece is usually heard.) It successfully conveys both the work’s incisiveness, and warmth—the latter atypical for Martin? at this point in his career. There’s lyricism but also clarity in the chromatic lines the Raphael Ensemble brings to the Andantino, bracing, unison attacks and a perfect blending of six fine instrumentalists in the scampering finale. The Three Madrigals combine precisely articulated energy with attention to details of dynamics and texture.


The Schulhoff by contrast is almost too good of a thing. While the stark depression of the piece is faithfully conveyed, the Raphaels still manage to produce a beautiful sound. It sounds odd sitting on the brutally expressionistic opening movement, at least for a while, but ultimately gives way before the group’s professionalism and extraordinarily faithful rendering of its composer’s vision. Top marks in particular for the wan Andante, consummately balanced and successful in resisting the understandable urge to dwell.


With excellent sound and liner notes, this would be a top recommendation at full price. As it’s now available on Hyperion’s budget line Helios, nobody any longer has a reason to avoid its purchase. Consider yourself on notice.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sextet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and 2 Cellos by Erwin Schulhoff
Performer:  Michael Stirling (Cello), Andrea Hess (Cello), James Boyd (Viola),
Sally Beamish (Viola), Elizabeth Wexler (Violin), Anthony Marwood (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Raphael Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; Prague, Czech Republ 
2.
Madrigals (3) for Violin and Viola by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Sally Beamish (Viola), Anthony Marwood (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Raphael Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; Czech Republic 
3.
Sextet for Strings by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Michael Stirling (Cello), Andrea Hess (Cello), James Boyd (Viola),
Sally Beamish (Viola), Elizabeth Wexler (Violin), Anthony Marwood (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Raphael Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 

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