Tchaikovsky, Dvor‡k

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Dvorak,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Souvenir de Florence
PERFORMER: Sarah Chang, Bernhard Hartog (violin), Wolfram Christ, Tanja Christ (viola), Georg Faust, Olaf Maninger (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 57243 2
A star soloist drafted in to gild the lily of Tchaikovsky’s sextet Souvenir de Florence does not always guarantee the best musical results, though Mstislav Rostropovich knows his place in the unsurpassably mobile ‘Borodin Quartet plus’ performance on Chandos. That Sarah Chang dominates her Berlin Philharmonic colleagues at the start here is thanks more to Tchaikovsky’s initial spotlight on the first violin than any virtuoso showing-off; she then works very much as part of a team, crowning the fullest ensemble passages with a special radiance. I missed the usual warm-hearted portamento which Tchaikovsky’s lyrical second subject seems to demand, and cellist Georg Faust finds more songful subtleties when Chang hands over the sure-fire melody of the Adagio cantabile to him; but the blend of opulence with focus and the unfaltering intonation under pressure inspire total confidence. Only a degree of detachment in these players’ easy progress through the work places them in second place to the more songful fluency and flexibility of line in Chandos’s historic performance.

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From its beautifully centred opening theme, the Dvorák Sextet is self-effacingly presented with the right kind of well-tempered charm. After the genial full-bloodedness of the Furiant, the final variations are graciously spun in an unfaltering sequence and the players’ unflinching precision as they speed to the finishing-post is little short of miraculous. David Nice