Borodin, Dvor‡k

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Borodin,Dvorak
LABELS: Guild
WORKS: String Trio in G (Unfinished); Piano Quintet in C minor
PERFORMER: St Petersburg Chamber Players
CATALOGUE NO: GMCD 7179
What an enterprising issue this is: two rarities from Borodin and Dvorák’s magnificent, though shamefully neglected, Second Piano Quartet. Borodin’s early G major Trio – the second of two – has a retrospective air: though early Romantic in demeanour, hints of Mozart and Beethoven emerge from time to time. The St Petersburg Chamber Players perform this slight work with conviction; the only regret about their rendition is their adopting an arrangement for violin, viola and cello, rather than the original scoring for two violins and cello.

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Borodin’s lovely Piano Quintet fares excellently in their hands: the folk-inflected first movement and Scherzo are delightful, and the broadly structured finale (surely intended as the first movement) emerges strongly. Their full-blooded, somewhat soloistic approach suits Dvorák’s far subtler Piano Quartet much less well. There are powerful aspects to their performance – not least the impetus they generate towards the end of the first movement, but too often they rely on fine, high-profile playing at the expense of ensemble and the chance to look into the heart of this richly expressive work; the slow movement is particularly disappointing from this point of view, nor is it helped by a rather harsh recorded piano sound. Jan Smaczny