Suk: Piano Quintet, Piano Quartet / Nash Ensemble
Suk / Nash Ensemble
Number of Discs:
1 Hours 13 Mins.
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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Review of original Hyperion release:
Josef Suk’s rarely heard Piano Quartet and Piano Quintet were written when he was still a teenager, but they spill over with evidence of his talent—far more, in fact, than you’ll find in the popular but nondescript Serenade for Strings, composed at about the same time. Of course, the influences are evident—not only the expected Dvoøák and Brahms (the Quintet has many points of contact with Brahms’s own Piano Quartet in the same key), but also Grieg (the Piano Concerto nearly breaks into the finale of the Quartet) and, more surprisingly, the French school, especially Fauré. Then, too, the composer’s inexperience sometimes shows in the occasionally square phrasing
and in the slightly clunky handling of textures—in this regard, these early works are closer to the Mahler Piano Quartet than to the astonishingly fluent (but also less individual) Piano Quintet that Dohnányi penned at about the same age. Still, by any standards this is first-rate music—and captivating music, as well. In part, its attractions come from its melodies, sometimes sunny, sometimes tender and evocative, sometimes ecstatic (try the second movement of the Quintet), sometimes dark (the calm middle movement of the Quartet is especially haunting), always alluring. Its attractions come, too, from its consistent impetus: it’s never driven, much less over-wrought, but the sense of direction is always clear. Most of all, this music enchants us because of its winning combination of innocence and self-confidence. This music won’t shock you, much less change you: there’s no hint yet of the self-lacerating doubts that sear the “Asrael” Symphony of the next decade. But if it’s not revelatory, it’s surely lovable—no small virtue.
The coupling is made more welcome by the presence of the slightly later Four Pieces, a bit more challenging in idiom (especially in the often hypnotic opener, with its hints of Scriabin), but just as rejuvenating in spirit (the barn-burning conclusion is especially exhilarating). As for the performances: even if the recordings featuring violinist Josef Suk (the composer’s grandson) were easier to find, these fresh-sounding, light-textured Nash Ensemble interpretations would hold their own in the catalog. Excellent engineering and informative notes, too. A magnificent release.
-- Peter J. Rabinowitz, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Pieces (4) for Violin and Piano, Op. 17 by Josef Suk
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1900; Prague, Czech Republ
Venue: Henry Wood Hall, London, England
Length: 16 Minutes 36 Secs.
Featured Sound Samples
Piano Quartet in A minor: I. Allegro appassionato
Piano Quintet in G minor: II. Adagio: Religioso
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A GOOD BUY! December 13, 2012
By Ward W. (Churchville, NY) See All My Reviews
"The sound quality of this CD is outstanding, and the playing is full of vigor and subtlety. I must find more of Suk."