Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Yes, it sounds crazy to make yet another recording of Schubert's Trout Quintet a "reference recording", particularly given the number of really good ones already in circulation. Never mind. There is no finer performance available, and certainly none better recorded: gorgeous, perfectly natural sound whether in regular stereo or SACD surround-sound. So what makes this performance so special? First, and speaking generally, this has got to be one of the most shapely, elegant, and effortlessly flowing versions ever committed to disc. Every phrase breathes, but in such a way that the
character of the line always supports what the music seems to want to do. The "interpretation" simply dissolves into the pure experience of Schubert.
Getting down to specifics, listen to the marvelously conversational exchanges between violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Martin Helmchen in the opening movement, and the amazingly perfect intonation of all of the string players. Then there's the perfect balance of Alois Posch's double bass, and the wonderful, dreamy quality of the initial presentation of the "Trout" theme in the fourth movement. The players' wide dynamic range lets them wring every drop of energy from the finale without ever forcing the tone, and it's impossible to overpraise Helmchen's sensitivity in both his solo and accompanying roles.
The couplings prove equally inspired, offering the sort of variety that makes this disc ideal for continuous listening. Usually we encounter the "Trockne Blumen" Variations on flute discs, where they either obliterate the inferior junk that accompanies them, or make you want to scream from the aural fatigue of hearing so much other flute music (let's face it: a little goes a long way). Here they make a refreshing contrast, with Aldo Baerten's soft-toned wooden flute marrying beautifully to Helmchen's elegant keyboard artistry. Yes, Baerten breathes a bit heavily from time to time, but it's not really bothersome. With the lovely Notturno an apt and mellow encore, this is surely one of the great Schubert chamber music recordings. You'll love it.
– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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