Serenity and meditation contrast with melancholy and savagery; primitive passions yield to poignancy, nobility and tenderness in Bloch’s accomplished chamber music. Five substantial pieces are recorded here, dating from different stages of the composer’s career and demonstrating both the programmatic elements of his writing and his Impressionistic side. Bloch’s deep affinity for string instruments and the piano is also given ample expression in these works, all of which deserve a permanent place in the chamber music repertoire.
“In the First Quintet Lane and the Goldners manage to communicate the urgency and immediacy of Bloch's musical argument… the opening passage projected with a frenzy that generates considerable momentum and purpose throughout the rhapsodic first movement. ...the performers are equally persuasive in capturing the langour and hypnotic sensuousness of the Andante mistico.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2008 *****
“A fabulous CD this, easily the best recording of Bloch's chamber music I've heard in years… the music is truly wonderful, the playing entirely sympathetic and the sound perfectly balanced.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2007
“[Piano Quintet No 1] ranks among the finest in the genre … a work of astonishing immediacy, at once lyrical and aggressive, that takes you on a lurching emotional journey before achieving stability in the most serene C major imaginable … the performances, by the Goldner String Quartet and pianist Piers Lane, are
tremendously authoritative in their combination of technical daring and expressive power” The Guardian
“A fabulous CD this, easily the best recording of Bloch's chamber music in years. The First Quintet, a product of the early 1920s, seems to combine the acerbic drive of middle-period Bartók with the kind of veiled sensuality one associates more with Chausson or Fauré. Bloch's use of quarter-tones, aimed at intensifying the work's already heightened emotional atmosphere, requires careful handling, and the Goldner Quartet make them sound both musically striking and entirely natural. If you need a sampling- point, try the finale's opening, where the sense of urgency will hold you riveted.
The real revelation here is the Second Piano Trio (1957). The language recalls the First Quintet's stronger elements, with tone-rows this time rather than quarter-tones, though again their employment is musical rather than 'political'. Amazing to think that this was Bloch's last chamber work (he was already suffering from cancer when he wrote it), the combination of raw energy and mysticism suggesting the mind of a much younger man, much as Janácek's late chamber music does. The Quintet's quiet coda is rapturously beautiful and the blending of voices between Piers Lane and the Goldners simply could not be bettered. The short quartet bonuses suggest that a Goldner Bloch quartet cycle would be a good idea. But that's one for the future; as for this current release, the music is truly wonderful, the playing entirely sympathetic and the sound perfectly balanced.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010