Dvorak: String Quintets, Opp. 1, 77 & 97; String Sextet in A, Op. 48; Piano Quintet in A, Op. 81

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: Philips Duo
WORKS: String Quintets, Opp. 1, 77 & 97; String Sextet in A, Op. 48; Piano Quintet in A, Op. 81
PERFORMER: Stephen Kovacevich (piano); Members of the Berlin Philharmonic Octet
CATALOGUE NO: 462 284-2 ADD Reissue (1968-72)
All Dvorák’s quintets with the bonus of the sextet seems like terrific value. In fact the performance of the latter is by far the best on these two CDs. Not surprisingly, the performance of the almost totally unknown Op. 1 is at times sketchy, but the players carry off its more idiomatic passages well and the first violinist copes heroically with his stratospheric line. The playing is also a little rough in the double bass Quintet, Op. 77 – unacceptably so in some unison passages in the finale. The famous E flat Quintet, Op. 97, is performed reliably but I missed a sense of celebratory vigour in the scherzo and finale. The version of the great Piano Quintet has some virtues, but in general lacks expressive insight and is rather hard-driven; no real comparison here with Clifford Curzon and the Vienna Philharmonic strings’ performance which, despite its age, remains a superb benchmark recommendation. Jan Smaczny

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