Fibich: Piano Quartet in E minor, Op. 11; Piano Quintet in D, Op. 42

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LABELS: Supraphon
WORKS: Piano Quartet in E minor, Op. 11; Piano Quintet in D, Op. 42
PERFORMER: Marián Lapsansky (piano), Ludmila Peterková (clarinet), Vladimíra Klánská (horn), Miroslav Sehnoutka (viola), Jirí Panocha (violin), Jaroslav Kulhan (cello)
Outside opera, Fibich is at his best as a writer of large-scale works in his chamber music. His three symphonies are full of good things, though they occasionally suffer from some rather hectoring rhetoric, particularly in the finales. The Quintet recorded here is undoubtedly his masterpiece in this area, but the early Piano Quartet, composed in 1874, the year his first opera was staged in Prague, is a remarkably accomplished work. Its modally inflected opening is particularly striking and while Mendelssohn might occasionally spring to mind in this first movement, it is as a whole highly individual. The variation slow movement and finale are more modest in scope, though again they contain numerous captivating details. The Piano Quintet, unusually scored for clarinet, horn, violin and cello, is a product of Fibich’s maturity. The Largo is the heart of the work, one of the most richly Romantic slow movements in the Czech chamber repertoire. These excellently recorded performances are near-ideal. The performers provide idiomatic, affectionate readings that fully convey the originality and lyrical assurance of these works. Indeed, so confident is their command of the scores that at no stage do they sound in the least like unfamiliar repertoire. Jan Smaczny