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String Quartet Op 96: American Import

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Audio CD, Import, September 14, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

These performances of Dvorák's two beloved chamber-music works are impeccable in technique, radiant in tone, unanimous in spirit, and deeply expressive. The violinists, who are brothers, alternate on first fiddle, giving the Quartet two equally strong leaders. The violist and cellist are wonderful, and Serkin fits into the group like a glove on the hand. It has been said that Dvorák's American compositions were influenced by African American and Indian folk music, but the Quartet, written in Iowa, sounds no less Czech than the Quintet, written in Bohemia, and, despite its general cheerfulness, has a strong tinge of homesickness. The players bring out its wistful nostalgia, which rises to passionate intensity in the slow movement, as well as its lightness, charm, and exuberance. In the Quintet, the balance between piano and strings is admirable; every line stands out clearly. The players' tempos are flexible, their liberties always dictated by expressive needs. They never rush, taking time to linger lovingly at magic moments; the tricky rhythms work perfectly. As they're completely at home with the Czech idiom, their deep affection for the music comes through in their warmth, emotional involvement, and unfailing expressiveness. --Edith Eisler

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. String Quartet No.12 In F Major, Op.96: Allegro ma non troppo
  2. String Quartet No.12 In F Major, Op.96: Lento
  3. String Quartet No.12 In F Major, Op.96: Molto vivace
  4. String Quartet No.12 In F Major, Op.96: Finale: Vivace ma non troppo
  5. Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81: Allegro, ma non tanto
  6. Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81: Dumka: Andante con moto-vivace-Andante con moto
  7. Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81: Scherzo (Furiant): Molto vivace
  8. Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81: Finale: Allegro

Product Details

  • Performer: Antonin Dvorak, Orion String Quartet, Peter Serkin
  • Audio CD (September 14, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Arabesque Recordings
  • ASIN: B00001O2XV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,256 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 2000
Dvorak's "American" quartet is easily one of my favorite Romantic compositions, and that was my main motivation for purchasing this CD. As a Dvorak diehard enthusiast, I can say honestly that I've suffered through my pleasure's fill of lack-luster performances of this piece and, gladly, the Orion String Quartet do not offer up such-far from it, in fact (it would be a sad day indeed should this well seasoned quartet ever issue a mediocre recording). I was genuinely surprised at how unique of a performance this recording is, all the while staying quite true to Dvorak's Romantic stylings without being overwrought or losing dramatic vigor. However, they do fall prey to a common scourge among contemporary musicians-insisting on performing a composition at the swiftest tempo possible. The first and last movements, which were both marked by Dvorak as "non troppo," really push the metronome, and the lush, solemn "Lento" is closer to a pulsating andante (the third movement is not so effected). The ensemble does manage extraordinarily well with such tempos; the performances by all four musicians are precise and sound of effortlessness, displaying superb expertise in ensemble playing, dynamics and phrasing. Overall, there is a remarkable sense of graceful, weightless musicality to the recording. The problem with the faster-than-marked tempos is the listener's missed opportunity to indulge in the expressive melodies and counterpoint. Dvorak wrote this piece based on inspirations he gained from his visit to America; there is an abundance of musical gems inlaid in this work that echo his experience. Dvorak knew his tempos, and his intent was to provide a well-paced tour his treasured memories.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 2001
Several years ago, I was able to hear these terrific musicians play the Dvorak Piano Quintet live. I can honestly say that the Orion and Serkin's playing proved to be the best chamber music experience of my life! They played this piece with amazing energy, rhythmic intensity and passion. The Orion and Serkin's performance was vital and fresh even though they were probably tired from being on the road. The CD fortunately captured all the drama of the live performance. The American Quartet was played with all the fire of the Quintet. I recommend this CD to anyone who seeks out great performances of chamber music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter P. Fuchs on March 23, 2010
I just acquired this CD recently, and it is really wonderful! The Orion String Quartet gives a very dramatic, yet very poised reading of the American Quartet. Poise might seem an odd word to use with this music, but somehow the polish of their performance makes it fit. Yet there is none of that "I'm too sexy for this Music" detachment or ennui that seems to tempt other performers that strive for poised performance position. When Peter Serkin joins them for the Quintet the same poised aesthetic seems to continue, but is given even more drama by Mr. Serkin's strong (and loud) piano playing. The whole thing really works, much better than many combinations I have heard. I listened to some Beethoven with the Orion Quartet at Santa Fe on Youtube, and wow! is that great, consistently with the same poised vigor. It will be fun collecting all their CDs.
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