Suk: Piano Quartet in A minor, Op. 1; Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 8; Four Pieces, Op. 17

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COMPOSERS: Suk
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Piano Quartet in A minor, Op. 1; Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 8; Four Pieces, Op. 17
PERFORMER: Nash Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67448
In his later maturity, Suk’s muse was most often stirred by the prospect of a large orchestral canvas or music for piano. In his early years, however, when developing his own, ultimately highly distinctive style, the medium of choice was chamber music. His very first opus was a Piano Quartet, dedicated to his teacher and future father-in-law, Dvopák. It’s a characterful work with clear anticipations of Suk’s mature style, notably in the nocturne-like slow movement. Composed shortly after the Quartet, the Piano Quintet shows the extent to which his personal voice had crystallised in a matter of a couple of years, with the slow movement once again showing the true depths of which Suk was capable, even at this early stage. All of the performances on this excellently recorded disc are exemplary. The Nash Ensemble has long had a dedication to Czech music and the players’ innate understanding of the characteristic dynamics of its chamber repertoire pay huge dividends in the Piano Quartet and the at times curiously Impressionist Four Pieces for violin and piano. Still more impressive is their superb ensemble playing throughout the Piano Quintet, and it reaches the heights of eloquence in magnificent readings of the scherzo and finale. Jan Smaczny

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