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Dvorak: String Sextet; Schumann: 5 Stucke Im Volkston; Schumann & Reimann: Fantasiestucke; Reimann: Solo For Clarinet

Schumann / Dvorak / Reimann / Tetzlaff / Donderrer
Release Date: 08/10/2010 
Label:  Cavi Music   Catalog #: 8553207   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antonín DvorákRobert SchumannAribert Reimann
Performer:  Christian TetzlaffQuirine ViersenRachel RobertsIsabelle van Keulen,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DVO?ÁK String Sextet in A 1. SCHUMANN Fantasy Pieces for Clarinet and Piano 2. 5 Pieces in Folk Style for Cello and Piano 3. Fantasy Pieces, op. 73 4. REIMANN Solo for Clarinet 5 1 Christian Tetzlaff, Florian Read more Donderer (vn); 1 Isabelle van Keulen, Rachel Roberts (va); 1,3 Gustav Rivinius, 1 Quirine Viersen (vc); 2,4 Jörg Widmann (cl); 2 Lars Vogt, 3 Steven Osborne (pn); 4 Andrea Lieberknecht (fl); 4 Jana Bou?ková (hp); 4 Tatjana Masurenko, Hanna Weinmeister (va) CAVI-MUSIC 8553207 (79:33) Live: Heimbach Spannungen Festival 1 6/25/2009, 2,4,5 6/24/2009, 3 6/23/2009

With the 200th anniversary in 2010 of Robert Schumann’s birth, the composer’s music seems to be undergoing a reappraisal as it enjoys a spate of new recordings. Clearly, it was high on the agenda at the 2009 Heimbach Spannungen Festival and that of its founder, pianist Lars Vogt. Though I wasn’t enthralled with a 2007 performance of Schumann’s E?-Major Piano Quintet with Vogt, Tetzlaff, and Rivinius from this same venue, reviewed in Fanfare 32:3, a performance of Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 from the 2005 festival—you’ll pardon the pun—was electrifying. The reference, for those who may not know, is to the setting of this annual event, which is held in the Heimbach Hydroelectric Power Station. The full proper name of the festival is Spannungen: Musik im Kraftwerk Heimbach. “Spannungen,” according to an online German translator, means “value of electrical tension expressed in volts; excitement, intense emotion.” Having visited a nearby dam where hydroelectric power is generated, I think I’d be a bit nervous attending a concert there, keeping a wary eye on the nearest exit sign. But that’s just me, always expecting the next natural or manmade disaster.

As detailed in the headnote, the contents of the present CD were assembled from performances given on three consecutive days. All of the works, with the exception of Reimann’s Solo for Clarinet, are bound to be familiar, though the Schumann Fantasy Pieces, op. 73, originally for clarinet and piano, may sound a bit alien in Reimann’s arrangement for clarinet, flute, harp, and two violas.

Taking the program in the order presented on the disc, let me begin with Dvo?ák’s exquisitely beautiful A-Major String Sextet, written in 1878, shortly after the composer had met and struck up a relationship of mutual admiration with Brahms. The influence of the elder composer’s two string sextets (1860 and 1864) can be heard in Dvo?ák’s work, perhaps not so much in the actual melodic and harmonic vocabulary, but in the textural fabric—i.e., in the way the voicing of instruments is distributed and spaced. The first of Dvo?ák’s chamber works to be premiered abroad, the Sextet was first performed by Joachim in Berlin. It surprises that such a lovely work hasn’t garnered more recordings, but a current check of ArkivMusic’s Web site lists only 10. Equally surprising is that there have been only two recordings of the piece reviewed in the Fanfare Archive (at least as far back as it goes), both in 2003—one available only on DVD with the Smetana Quartet, the other with Sarah Chang and friends on EMI. Both are still in circulation. My personal preference, however, has been for an ASV recording by the eminent Nash Ensemble—that is, until now. A silken sound and shimmering sheen surround the players in this performance, lending it a quality of iridescence that seems suited to Dvo?ák’s luminous string writing. There’s greater spontaneity too in this live account, with Tetzlaff, van Keulen, and Rivinius, in particular, responding to each other, the other members of the ensemble, and to the audience with a heightened sense of electricity—it’s that power generating plant that must charge the air.

With the appearance of a number of recent recordings of Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces, op. 73, in their version for cello and piano, a performance in the original scoring for clarinet and piano is welcome, and that’s what we get here in honey-toned, nuanced performances by clarinetist Jörg Widmann.

Turnabout being fair play, Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style are often taken up by clarinetists, though they were written expressly for cello, which is how we hear them here in beautifully limned readings by cellist Gustav Rivinius. Though his instrument sounds with unforced tonal bloom, he is up against stiff competition in this fare from the likes of Mischa Maisky, Daniel Müller-Schott, and Antonio Meneses. I can say of Rivinius what I said of Meneses, reviewed in 30:4: “The only thing that militates against an unqualified recommendation is that so many others have already been here and done that, and with at least equal excellence.”

If Schumann’s op. 73 really strikes your fancy, the CD at hand affords you an opportunity to hear it twice, once in the aforementioned original version for clarinet and piano, and again in a quite effective as well as affective arrangement for clarinet, flute, harp, and two violas by German composer Aribert Reimann (b.1936), known primarily for his operas.

Concluding the program is an original work by Reimann, Solo for Clarinet, written in 2000 for Sabine Meyer. According to the composer, a motif—B-C-C?—which played a major role in his opera Bernarda Albas Haus , is quoted here, and finally achieves closure, which it didn’t in the opera, by resolving downward to a B?. I’m not sure that bit of information will help you to appreciate this nearly nine-minute piece that proceeds from jagged, jarring interval jumps to, beginning at 5:09, eardrum-piercing caterwauling in the clarinet’s highest register.

A wonderful Dvo?ák and superb Schumann recommend this fine sampling of performances from the 2009 Heimbach Spannungen Festival.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Sextet for Strings in A major, Op. 48/ B 80 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Christian Tetzlaff (Violin), Quirine Viersen (Cello), Rachel Roberts (Viola),
Isabelle van Keulen (Viola), Florian Donderer (Violin), Gustav Rivinius (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 06/25/2009 
Venue:  Live  Wasserkraftwerk RWE Power AG, Heimbach, 
Length: 33 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Phantasiestücke (3) for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 73 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Hanna Weinmeister (Viola), Tatjana Masurenko (Viola), Jörg Widmann (Clarinet),
Jana Bousková (Harp), Andrea Lieberknecht (Flute)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/24/2009 
Venue:  Live  Wasserkraftwerk RWE Power AG, Heimbach, 
Length: 21 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Stücke (5) im Volkston for Cello and Piano, Op. 102 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Steven Osborne (Piano), Gustav Rivinius (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/23/2009 
Venue:  Live  Wasserkraftwerk RWE Power AG, Heimbach, 
Length: 15 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Solo for Clarinet by Aribert Reimann
Performer:  Jörg Widmann (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000 
Date of Recording: 06/24/2009 
Venue:  Live  Wasserkraftwerk RWE Power AG, Heimbach, 
Length: 8 Minutes 46 Secs. 

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