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Dvorak: Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81; Piano Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 87

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Dvorak: Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81; Piano Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 87
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  • Schumann: Piano Quintet Op. 44, Piano Quartet Op. 47
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  • Brahms: Piano Quintet in F Min / Complete String Quartets (1, 2, 3)
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Editorial Reviews

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The venerable pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio joins the Emerson Quartet for two memorable performances. To the uncommon clarity and rhythmic drive of the string players, Menahem Pressler adds some of his own expansive personality. The mix works beautifully. You can hear every note in the scores, and everything is played with great expression and enough rhythmic tension to keep the music flowing. If you don't know these gorgeous works, this is a great way to make their introduction; if you do know them, this superbly recorded disc will bring you gratifying new perspectives. --Leslie Gerber
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1
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13:55
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2
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4:13
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7:34
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8:34
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10:18
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Product Details

  • Performer: Menahem Pressler, Emerson String Quartet, David Finckel, Lawrence Dutton, Eugene Drucker, et al.
  • Composer: Antonin Dvorak
  • Audio CD (May 10, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001GLU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,196 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. B. Rathbun on June 20, 2000
Format: Audio CD
The performances of these two pieces is flawless. The recording quality is very good for Deutsche Gramophon--well rounded, sonorous, not too brash and not the slightest bit lumpy. The music is simply beautiful. This is an essential chamber music entry into anyone's collection.
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I have to admit that, for all that I love Dvorak's music and appreciate his mastery as a melodicist, I have never quite managed to like his second piano quartet all that much. Yes, it has plenty of tunes, but it has always struck me that Dvorak is trying to hard, and in this rare case failing to stay on the right side of banality. The worst offender is the first movement, where the main themes is memorable through incessancy rather than quality, but - perhaps apart from the finale - none of the movements show the composer's invention at its best (though he does master the scale and sense of direction of the music). I know that many would disagree wholeheartedly with this assessment, so I can at least assure potential listeners that I doubt that anyone could make a more persuasive case for it than the members of the Emerson Quartet and Menahem Pressler do here. Pressler's piano playing is superb, and the Emerson adopts a less intense approach than they often do - which certainly doesn't hurt in this work (I see some worry about a potential lack of energy, but to my ears more energy would be exactly what this work doesn't need).

The (second) piano quintet, however, is one of the great masterpieces of chamber music of all time - an absolutely staggeringly powerful and beautiful work, well constructed out of first-rate melodic ideas that are treated with stunning resourcefulness and imagination, and an incomparable ability to create wonderful textures.
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By A Customer on June 8, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I've had this recoridng for the better part of 10 years and return to it often. It's simply amazing. These are first rate chamber pieces played to pieces by outstanding muscicians. Rich, vibrant, soaring and firey are a few adjectives to describe this incredible coupling. Buy this disk!
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Walk into the record departments of any music store in the land and you'll find the Dvorak section has 15 different versions of the "New World" symphony, a couple of Slavonic Dances, and not much else. Too bad, because his chamber music is plentiful and absolutely gorgeous. The two works on this recording by the Emerson Quartet are among the best, and the performances here are crisp, deep and rich. Highly recommended.
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I have many recordings of Pressler, but to hear him with the Emerson Quartet is magic. I'm just sorry I became acquainted with the quartet so late. I was lucky to hear original cellist David Finckel before he left the quartet and was blown away by his sound. I'm buying anything I can get with Pressler and the Emerson.
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Format: Audio CD
I think the Amazon reviewer is right to point out that Menahem Pressler, who comes into this recording as an elder statesman (much as Leon Fleisher does for the Brahms Piano Quintet with the Emersons), bringing a broader, more relaxed way of phrasing. The Emersons adapt to him a good deal of the time. This is an expansive interpretation of the Dvorak Piano Quintet that isn't as driven, lean, and angular as one expects form them. At the same time, you quckly realize that the strings lead the performance. In his famous account with the Borodin Quartet (Philips), Sviatoslav Richter clearly dominates the proceedings. I wish Pressler had done more of that, but in any event this is an accomplsihed, successful reading with a charm and warmth I rarely find from the Emersons. In my experience there have been only a handufl of outstanding recordings of this beloved work, and this is the latest.

There re even fewer outstanding recordings of Dvorak's Piano quartet No. 2, one of his major chamber works and the one I would point to after the Piano Quintet as his most inspired. The work is built on the grand scale of Brahms's Piano Quartets, and from the first fiery allegro (it's marked Allegro con fuoco), Dvorak attains Brahms's propulsive sweep. The Lento that follows is gentler and more reflective than a slow movement form Brahms; it displays Dvorak's trait of lyric melanchily. The Scherzo is a lilting hesitation waltz with a considerable gypsy flavor sprinkled in. The Rondo finale is a bit subdued compared to what Brahms does at the end of his Piano quartet No. 1 and is, on the whole, not quite a crowning glory to the work. The Emersons and Pressler give a balanced reading that could afford more abandon and energy here and there, yet overall it's very fine.
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Format: Audio CD
These are deservedly popular works - perhaps too popular; I think the first movement of the A Major quintet was appropriated by some unmemorable Hollywood production. Younger listeners will be spared the unbidden mental associations attending the second (Dumka) movement which was plagiarised into a saccharine pop-song in the 'sixties.

Regardless of this nonsense, these are wonderful works stuffed full with all those very idiomatic Czech influences which characterised so much of Dvorak's writing when he was at his most musically confident. Ebullient and hummably tuneful, as previously has been suggested these works can be an excellent introduction to the world of chamber music, so often and erroneously regarded as being recondite and difficult to penetrate. If nothing else, this quintet and quartet put the lie to that.

Others have commented upon the recording quality - certainly Deutsche Grammophon can be very inconsistent in this regard. Perhaps this is something to do with production batches for the sound of my example is quite acceptable.

Great music, great performance, great buy.

NOTE: The heading shows four stars only. My intention had been to award five but I hit the wrong button and my editing skills have proved insufficient to add the fifth.
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