Dvořák • Mendelssohn
Although composed only two years before his death, the outer movements of Mendelssohn’s Second Quintet recapture a similar youthful exuberance to the famous Octet. This particular aspect of the work is strongly savoured in the Aronowitz Ensemble’s spirited and vividly recorded performance, but the music’s more reflective and melancholic moments, in particular the lyrical Adagio e lento, are also projected with affection and great tenderness.
Equally compelling is their approach to Dvorˇák’s Second Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81. Perhaps the players are a bit too indulgent at the outset, employing a rather lugubrious tempo for the opening cello melody and indulging in some rather self-conscious rubato. But this dreaminess is immediately counteracted by the impetuous entry of the full ensemble that tears into the music with great rhythmic verve but never makes it sound hard-driven. There are also some particularly lovely moments in the second-movement Dumka, pianist Tom Poster gently caressing the liquid arpeggio figures that accompany the sweetly scored second melody.
Acting as a highly effective bridge between these two pieces is Martin Suckling’s To See the Dark Between, which was specially commissioned by the Aronowitz Ensemble and first performed two years ago. This accessible and gripping one-movement work lasts barely ten minutes, from the strident piano chords that appear both at the opening and close, to the haunting almost folk-like melody that eventually emerges from unison strings. But it seems to cover a tremendous amount of ground along the way. The recorded sound is first-rate,