Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Quintet in A,
D 667, “Trout.”
Piano Quintet in e?,
Caio Pagano (pn); Jacques Thibaud Tr; Masatoshi Saito (db)
SOUNDSET 1044 (55: 47) Live: Japan 8/30/2001
This disc, titled
Caio Pagano Live in Japan,
appears to be one of those vanity CDs produced by the performer (the CD container references
PaganoPianoProjects, LLC) featuring a 2001 concert in Japan, no city given. Neither is the bassist in these performances identified on the packaging, but since it is patently impossible to play a quintet with only three strings, and a bassist is clearly audible, I took the name of Masatoshi Saito from a review of Pagano playing these exact same works with the same trio at Arizona in October 2002.
Annotation quirks aside, these are splendid, brisk, well-integrated versions of the Schubert and Hummel quintets. Of course I was familiar with Schubert’s “Trout,” possibly the most famous piano quintet of the entire 19th century, but the Hummel was new to me. Now I understand why the great Russian pianist Daria Gloukhova has Hummel’s family crest tattooed on her left bicep. This is a simply outstanding piece of music, truthfully, even a more interesting and original piece of music than most of Beethoven’s ensemble works of the 1790s. Hummel not only wrote attractive and interesting themes, but develops them in a very creative way, using notes in the harmony to pivot both the chords and the turns of phrase in the top line. (But I must disagree with the designation on the album cover that this quintet is in E?-Major, as it clearly opens in E?-Minor with occasional modulations to phrases in A Major—and Wikipedia agrees with me.) The third movement
, moody and evocative, is especially good, and the final
follows without a break, creating a remarkable and striking mood change. Researching it online, it appears to have been a reworking of an earlier quintet written in the 1790s but not published until 1822. Regardless of era, however, this is really terrific music for the late 18th and early19th century, certainly comparable to the best of Haydn.
The sound of the recording has a good amount of hall ambience; the instruments are captured fairly well, but not closely enough for us to hear the string vibrato. Pagano’s playing here is very fine for its role in the ensemble. He does not dominate but blends into the overall fabric of the piece, yet his playing is also finely chiseled and exemplary in phrasing. In the last movement of the “Trout,” I could swear that the tape slipped at one point as the piano’s pitch sags just a hair, followed by the strings (I listened to this bit three times), but it quickly recovers. Otherwise, a fine recording.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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