This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
The D major Quartet Op. 23 was Dvorák's first really characteristic chamber work involving the piano and it was his earliest use of this particular instrumentation. As such it is rather uneven, the song-like Andantino con variazioni being the strongest movement. However, both the Juilliard players with Rudolf Firkusny and the Beaux Arts Trio with Walter Trampler on Philips make out excellent cases for it, and here as in the Op. 87 Quartet it is hard to choose between them on purely musical grounds. Each ensemble gives admirably decisive performances, absolutely clear as to their intentions. This is emphasized by the CBS recording, which is closer, making the fortes louder, the pianos softer, the accents sharper; other details such as
the viola's brief playing of the theme near the start of the finale of the E flat Quartet Op. 87 are more clearly focused.
Both ensembles achieve splendid internal balance, it being hard to imagine improvements in their teamwork, and the stereo separation is good on both CBS and Philips. In Op. 87 the Beaux Arts and Trampler produce a fine effect of calm beauty in sections of the Lento, but so also do Firkusny and the Juilliards, and there is lovely playing from both cellists here. The same work's Scherzo, with its cimbalom evocations from the piano, also receives charmingly piquant readings, although with the lines rather more distinctly etched on CBS.
-- Gramophone [6/1979, reviewing the Piano Quartets]
[T]he Juilliard...version [of the Quintet], with Rudolf Firkusny, is a fine one... For Dvorák's curious Bagatelles the viola drops out and the piano is replaced by a harmonium. These pieces recall a line buried somewhere in Vol. I of Virginia Woolf's Letters: "We are mystical and dreamy, and perform fugues on the harmonium"... They date from May 1878, when Dvorák was working on his initial group of Slavonic Dances, and the slightly eccentric instrumentation was apparently due to their being written for a set of musicians who met regularly at the Prague flat of a music critic friend of Dvorák's who happened to have a harmonium. The Bagatelles do not allow much scope for interpretative subtleties, but the performances given here, as might be expected, are very efficient.
-- Gramophone [8/1977, reviewing the Quintet and the Bagatelles]
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