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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581
III. Menuetto - Trio 1 - Trio 2
IV. Allegretto con Variazioni
Cesar Franck: Piano Quintet in F minor, M. 7
I. Molto moderato quasi lento - Allegro
II. Lento, con molto sentimento
III. Allegro non troppo ma con fuoco
Richard Strauss: String Sextet, Op. 85, TrV 279a
String Sextet, Op. 85, TrV 279a
“Rarely can a case for live rather than studio performances have been made more persuasively than by the present disc, a study in contrasts if ever there was one. The Amadeus Quartet was celebrated for its homogeneity (accusations from critics of a plush or de luxe style were rare), yet this superb ensemble could easily accommodate other radically different players, and here Curzon's legendary nervous intensity is accentuated by the Amadeus, who join him in a performance of the Franck Quintet so supercharged it virtually tears itself apart. Taken from a 1960 Aldeburgh Festival concert, it eclipses all others (even Curzon's revelatory Decca disc). Curzon and his colleagues hurl themselves at music which clearly they see as hardly needing a cooling agent. How free and rhapsodic is Curzon's reply to the Amadeus's opening dramatico, and what a savage explosion of pent-up energy from all the players at 7'02"! Intonation may suffer in the finale's equestrian nightmare, but the concluding pages are overwhelming, and Curzon's darting crescendos at 3'56" and 58" are like snarls of defiance. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Mozart's Clarinet Quintet, that assuaging and elusive glory of the repertoire, played with all Gervase de Peyer's serenity and elegance. Yet again, the performance is essentially live, and has the sort of vitality and imaginative subtlety less easy to achieve or even countenance in the studio. And the same could be said of Cecil Aronowitz and William Pleeth, who join the Amadeus for Strauss's Prelude to Capriccio, aptly described in the notes as 'a sumptuous effusion of very late romanticism'. The recordings (1960-71) are vivid and immediate, and odd noises off only add to the sense of occasion. Finally, a word of warning; this performance of the Franck isn't for late-night listening: you'll sleep more peacefully after the Mozart.”
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