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Schumann’s Piano Quintet, composed in the autumn of 1842, was one of the earliest examples of the combination of piano with a string quartet – Boccherini, Dussek and Hummel had each produced one, and Schubert used the double bass in his ‘Trout’ Quintet. It instantly became one of Schumann’s most popular works. It was composed at a time of almost feverish industry – he composed his three string quartets Op.41, the Piano Quartet and a set of Fantasy Pieces for piano trio, all in 1842. The piano quintet is a captivating, almost spontaneous work, and is a brilliant example of Schumann’s inspiration from start to finish.
Dvorák’s Op.81 Piano Quintet stems from his attempt to revise an earlier piano quintet in A major from 1872. Dissatisfied with this work, he set upon composing a new one: the result composed in September 1887 is one of his most lovable works. A relentlessly sunny work, sometimes sentimental, always masterful.
Schumann: Piano Quintet in E flat op. 44
I Allegro brillante
II In modo d’una marcia. Un poco largamente
III Scherzo: Molto vivace
IV Allegro ma non troppo
Dvorak: Piano Quintet no.2 in A op. 81
I Allegro, ma non tanto
II Dumka: Andante con moto
III Scherzo (Furiant): Molto vivace
IV Finale: Allegro
30th September 2012
“The qualities of both quintets are relished by Biss and the Elias players in these lively performances, though sometimes the balance — always tricky in this medium — favours the piano too much”
7th October 2012
“playing of wonderful exuberance and fire in both works...these superb players could almost convince you Schumann was looking out on a cloudless sky when he wrote it.”
“the ensemble is meticulously precise and the Elias’s intonation spotlessly clean”
16th November 2012
“As a pairing of the most popular piano quintets, this disc would make a useful Christmas stocking-filler. The interpretations are clean and unfussy.”
“highly assured performances of these two marvellous chamber works...this warmly recorded performance is most compelling when Schumann explores the extrovert side of his musical personality...While there are some caveats about the Schumann, the Biss/Elias partnership produces a wonderful performance of the Dvorak, conveying not only the freshness of its invention but also probing darker melancholic undercurrents.”
“From the very opening, the almost imperceptible variation of pulse suggests an intimate engagement with this music...This music thrives in performances of individuality and character...and that's what Biss/Elias offer in abundance. It's Schumann Quintet to place among the best of the rest and a Dvorak that I simply couldn't stop listening to.”
“one of the most enjoyable and compelling chamber recordings released this year”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.