Notes and Editorial Reviews
Though it's difficult to imagine Spohr's music ever regaining the popularity and high prestige it enjoyed during his lifetime, recordings of much of his enormous output are now available. This 1996 programme features two substantial late works. The G minor Quintet has an anxious, troubled character, powerfully established at the beginning, and recurring in the restless Minuet, an interesting piece full of unsettling harmonic ambiguities. The Larghetto is a beautiful movement, too, though it recalls Spohr's hero, Mozart, rather too precisely (the Quintet, K593). The first movement's dark mood, however, dissipates a bit too easily in the coda, and the G major barcarolle finale, though brilliantly and richly written for strings, still presents a rather weak conclusion.
The Sextet is another matter: consistently inspired, highly imaginative and satisfying. The expansive first movement, like a wide landscape with deep, glowing colours, is followed by a slight but charming Larghetto and then an original combination of Moderato scherzo, veering between A minor and major, and rollicking C major finale. The Potpourri for solo violin and quartet, written 40 years earlier, is a delightful, quaint piece, containing variations on a Russian melody and on 'La ci darem' from Don Giovanni.
The New Haydn Quartet and colleagues play confidently, with strong, expressive, well blended tone and rhythmic verve. There are places - the Sextet's finale is one - where I wondered whether a lighter, more pointed style might have served the music better, but in general I can't imagine the composer being other than delighted.
-- Duncan Druce, Gramophone [6/2006]