Dvorak: String Sextet in A; String Quintet in G

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: ASV Gold
ALBUM TITLE: Dvorak
WORKS: String Sextet in A; String Quintet in G
PERFORMER: Nash Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: GLD 4011
The overwhelming popularity of

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Dvo‡k’s later chamber music,

notably the Second Piano Quintet

and the American Quartet, has

damagingly overshadowed the

virtues of his earlier works. One

of the soundest barometers of

Dvo‡k’s style, chamber music

dates from every period of his

creative life apart from his last,

operatically inclined, years. The

G major Quintet, with double

bass, was composed in 1875, the

year in which Dvo‡k can be

said to have found his musical

voice. It has all the engaging

qualities of more mature works:

captivating melody, inspired use

of instruments and an irrepressible

energy which in the scherzo looks

forward to his ‘American’ period.

The richly lyrical sextet,

composed in the wake of the first

set of Slavonic Dances, is more

reflective and shows the influence

of Brahms. The Nash Ensemble is

particularly adept in externalising

its rich vein of sentiment notably in

the extraordinarily beautiful first

movement. The evident affection,

strong sense of ensemble and the

lower strings full-throated tone

in this impressive performance

puts it for me at the top of the

not very extensive list of available

recordings. Their reading of the

Quintet, with its excised extra slow

movement as an appendix, has

similar qualities if not quite the

same level of ensemble playing and

while certainly enjoyable, and also

excellently recorded, must cede the

palm to the Chilingirian Quartet.

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Jan Smaczny