Elgar: Piano Quintet in A minor; String Quartet in E minor; Concert Allegro, Op. 46; Serenade

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COMPOSERS: Elgar
LABELS: HMV
WORKS: Piano Quintet in A minor; String Quartet in E minor; Concert Allegro, Op. 46; Serenade
PERFORMER: John Ogdon (piano); Allegri Quartet, Music Group of London
CATALOGUE NO: 5 73455 2 (available only from HMV stores) ADD Reissue (1970, 1971)
Failing to live up to its name, Elgar’s Concert Allegro for piano is encountered rarely either live or on disc, and so HMV has chosen to reissue the unequivocal benchmark recording, John Ogdon’s of 1970, coupled with two late chamber works. Of these, the Piano Quintet is also an Ogdon reading, that of the String Quartet, the chief recorded version available for many years. Although the plethora of more recent versions offers fascinatingly varied approaches to these pieces, the skill with which the Allegri-Ogdon partnership captured the Quintet’s mysterious poetry remains exemplary, benchmark material in fact, coupled, for those who like it, with the enhanced atmosphere of spacious analogue recording. As for the String Quartet, its full compass never quite seemed within the grasp of the Music Group of London. The Maggini Quartet offers a crisp, fresh performance, with pianist Peter Donohoe giving a very credible Piano Quintet as well. Nicholas Williams

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