Dvorak: Piano Quintets Nos 1 & 2

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Piano Quintets Nos 1 & 2
PERFORMER: Piers Lane (piano); Goldner String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67805

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After successfully exploring undeservedly neglected piano quintets by Bloch and Bridge in their previous recordings for Hyperion, Piers Lane and the Goldner String Quartet here tackle much more mainstream repertory with Dvorák’s Op. 81. Inevitably such a move invites comparisons with the highly impressive versions from Richter and the Borodin Quartet (Philips) or Andreas Haefliger and the Takács Quartet (Decca), but Lane and the Goldners can certainly hold their own in such company. Indeed the performers offer an immensely satisfying and unmannered performance. 

The first movement is particularly compelling, the players revelling in the music’s heartfelt lyricism yet articulating the more animated sections with a good deal of urgency. In the Dumka, the viola delivers the plaintive melody with a real sense of nostalgia whilst the faster section is really vibrant. Similarly positive qualities are evident throughout the final two movements, though in places the players could relax and offer a little more charm to offset their feistiness in the Finale.

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Dvoπák was somewhat dismissive of his earlier A major Quintet, Op. 5, and the work was never published during his lifetime. Yet although it doesn’t boast the melodic distinctiveness and structural fluidity of the mature work, the Quintet is by no means a negligible achievement, and here Lane and the Goldners find far more light and shade in the music than emerges from the rather sober approach adopted by Richter and the Borodins. Erik Levi