COMPOSERS: Goetz,Vaughan Williams
ALBUM TITLE: Goetz * Vaughan Williams
WORKS: Piano Quintets
PERFORMER: Fabergé Quintet; Yoko Kikuchi (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ES 2056
If you wished to investigate Vaughan Williams the European, this CD might tempt you. Brahmsian torrents open his 1903 Piano Quintet and many of the passages that follow. It’s paired with another C minor quintet, a genuinely German work from 1874 by Hermann Goetz. The musicians, moreover, have largely peeled off from Hamburg’s NDR Symphony Orchestra. Japanese-born pianist Yoko Kikuchi adds an international tincture of her own.
For a clear and convincing account, though, you’re better served elsewhere. The warm and resonant studio acoustic doesn’t illuminate Vaughan Williams’s rather clotted palette, darkened so often by the double-bass (the instrumentation follows Schubert’s Trout Quintet, and indeed the Goetz itself). Meanwhile, Kikuchi’s piano tone is nothing special. Seek out the Nash Ensemble on Hyperion for the most convincing account of this imperfect but interesting melting-pot piece.
Recording quirks remain in the Goetz, yet the players buckle down with more panache. Tautly constructed, with much motivic interplay, the music is stronger too, and makes you grieve for the works lost when the composer died early from tuberculosis. Balance favours the strings rather than the piano; not that I could possibly complain when the cello springs into delightful song during the third movement’s variations. Geoff Brown