Beach: Piano Quintet in F sharp minor, Op. 67; Theme and Variations for Flute & String Quartet, Op. 80,

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Beach
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Piano Quintet in F sharp minor, Op. 67; Theme and Variations for Flute & String Quartet, Op. 80,
PERFORMER: The Ambache
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9752
Mrs HHA Beach, born Amy Marcy Cheney (1867-1944), overcame the social restrictions of her conservative New England upbringing to become a leading concert pianist, and a composer whose considerable achievements are increasingly recognised today. Her Piano Quintet of 1908 is a fine piece by any standards, expertly written in a late Romantic idiom owing most to Brahms and Dvorák, and distinguished by some memorable melodic writing, especially in the deeply felt slow movement. The members of The Ambache (formerly, and less nonsensically, the Ambache Ensemble) meet its demands with technical command and passionate fervour. They face some competition in this work, notably from the Endellion Quartet with Martin Roscoe on ASV. But ASV matches the Quintet with music by Rebecca Clarke, an Anglo-American composer of the next generation and a more progressive outlook. Chandos scores with two later works by Beach: a set of variations for flute and strings from 1916, perhaps over-extended by its preponderance of slow music, but full of invention; and a compact Piano Trio from 1939. These complete a well-rounded portrait of a significant figure, which, with a clear recording in a warm church acoustic, makes enjoyable listening from beginning to end. Anthony Burton

Advertisement