Faure: Piano Quintet in C minor, Op. 115; Piano Quintet in D minor, Op. 89

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COMPOSERS: Faure
LABELS: Pierre Verany
WORKS: Piano Quintet in C minor, Op. 115; Piano Quintet in D minor, Op. 89
PERFORMER: Emmanuel Strosser (piano); Rosamonde Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: PV 703011

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A new recording of Fauré’s marvellous piano quintets is an all too rare pleasure, and when the performers are of the pedigree of Emmanuel Strosser and the Rosamonde Quartet the anticipation becomes even keener. Such expectations are, sadly, thwarted on this occasion.

The Rosamonde produces a wonderfully rich sound, but there is a mundane uniformity of approach throughout, neutering any sense of an emotional ebb and flow. Take, for instance, the brief fugal vignette about a third of the way through the opening movement of the C minor Quintet. The piano has dropped out of the texture, the strings are centre-stage and the music should have a new-found impetus, but the Rosamonde simply plods along as if nothing has happened and nothing ever will.

Similarly, the earthbound approach of Strosser and the Rosamonde makes the magical opening of the D minor sluggish and leaden-footed, all the more so when heard alongside the floating gossamer threads of sound of the famous Domus account (Hyperion), or the magical hush of the Auryn Quartet with Peter Orth.

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Fauré may tend to favour seamless flow over juxtaposition, but these are pieces with deep undercurrents of simmering, passionate beauty. It is tantamount to heresy in some quarters to suggest that any ensemble is worthy even to be mentioned in the same breath as the rightfully lauded Domus. Nonetheless, Orth and the Auryn Quartet reach the same stratospheric heights of sublimity and, while Domus could hardly be surpassed, they are certainly their equals and my personal preference. Christopher Dingle