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Cat. No. CHAN 10719 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10719 - Dvorak: Quartets/Songs My Mother Taught me
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Available From: 15 April 2012
Dvorak: Quartets/Songs My Mother Taught me

Founded in 1983, regularly giving more than sixty concerts a year, and having performed in over forty different countries, the Schubert Ensemble is firmly established as one of the world’s leading exponents of chamber music for piano and strings.
 

The Ensemble here performs Piano Quintet No. 2, which is arguably one of Dvorák’s greatest and most popular chamber pieces, thanks to its memorable melodies and sheer panache. The composer took great pride in his country, in his people, their character and cultural heritage, all of which is evident in this work. In the words of the late British Dvorák scholar John Clapham: ‘[it] probably epitomizes more completely the genuine Dvorák style in most of its facets than any other work of his. Laughter and tears, sorrow and gaiety, are found side by side, as well as many moods that lie between these two extremes. All are presented with consummate mastery, they are decked in a wide range of instrumental colouring, and through the whole sweeps the life-blood of vital rhythm.’

 Dvorák wrote his Piano Quartet No. 2 at the persistent request of his publisher Simrock in Berlin, who had long recognised the sales potential of the composer’s music. He was not wrong; the work went on to become one of Dvorák’s most frequently played chamber works. Here, Dvorák revels in taking on both tranquil and stormy moods; the feeling of great joy present in the third movement pre-echoes the sunny disposition of his Symphony No. 8, which was to follow immediately after the Quartet.
 

The seven songs which make up the cycle Gypsy Songs were written in 1880 to texts by the Czech poet Adolf Heyduk. The fourth, ‘Songs My Mother Taught Me’, is the best known internationally of all Dvorák’s songs. The version heard here, for piano quartet, was arranged by the four core members of the Schubert Ensemble, and is a highly popular encore piece performed at many of its concerts.
 

Reviews

“...The sound is full and full-frontal ... it suits these pertly articulated performances which are always on the qui vive for chances to sing and to dance. This is an unqualified delight.”

Peter Quantrill – Gramophone magazine – March 2013


“... This new Chandos release is a very fine one, sporting superior sound, as is customary for the company’s recordings, and the Schubert Ensembl turns in topflight playing and thoughtfully considered performances that steer clear of rhetorical flourishes and interpretative exaggeration...”
 
Jerry Dubins – Fanfare – November/December 2012 

“...Both works are rich in the folk idiom of the composer’s native Bohemia, and the Schuberts give us a charming encore with a piano quartet arrangement of Songs My Mother Taught Me, the most famous of his seven Gypsy Songs. An enchanting programme.”
Peter Spaull – Liverpool Daily Post – 2 August 2012

"...The significance of this Chandos disc by the Schubert Ensemble of London is that it contains the first recordings of these works by non-Czech players to challenge the Czechs on their own ground. Both performances compare with the best... The most important aspect of these two performances is that they sound so spontaneous, vital with a composer who so often changes tempo. Transitions are seamless and rhythms explode where they should explode, or shade into each other where that is appropriate... "
Tully Potter - ClassicalSource.com - 25 May 2012

"...The significance of this Chandos disc by the Schubert Ensemble of London is that it contains the first recordings of these works by non-Czech players to challenge the Czechs on their own ground. Both performances compare with the best..."

Tully Potter - the Classical Shop  - June 2012

 

              Chamber Choice
Performance  *****        Recording *****

“... Playing that shows a strong appreciation of the drama in Dvorák...  these excellently-recorded performances lead a well-populated field.”
Jan Smazcny – BBC Music magazine – August 2012

"...For anyone coming to Dvorák’s chamber music for the first time, this pairing makes a useful introduction: it comprises two of his most popular works ... The Quintet is one of the most tuneful pieces he wrote: once you hear it, you don’t forget it. The schubert Ensemble is a competent and reliable guide..." ***
Andrew Clark - The Financial Times - 30 June 2012

"... a fine release."
Piers Burton-Page - International Record Review - June 2012

“...Listen closely ... and a wealth of clever detailing emerges from this quartet and guest violinist Alexandra Wood. The tones chosen are understated, the articulation feathery, dry or dewy. This is Dvorák played not as gifted naïf but as a sophisticated, subtle and assured.” ****
Anna Picard – The Independent on Sunday – 13 May 2012

 

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