String Quartet Op 96: American
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Audio CD, Import, September 14, 1999
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
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 4.94 x 0.45 inches; 3.68 Ounces
- Manufacturer : Arabesque Recordings
- Date First Available : December 10, 2006
- Label : Arabesque Recordings
- ASIN : B00001O2XV
- Number of discs : 1
Best Sellers Rank:
#521,322 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- #25,306 in Chamber Music (CDs & Vinyl)
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The second piece on this CD, Dvorak's elegant piano quintet, is a delight. The Orion musicians plus American pianist Peter Serkin prove to be a wonderful consort, and, to this listener's contentment, the tempos are on target. Serkin plays as though he himself composed this piece, yet keeps his contribution in balance with the strings. More so than with the first piece on the CD, the Orion quartet is quite at home, never failing to render fully their melodies and harmonies. This is simply world class ensemble playing, and the only thing that could make this performance any better, in my opinion, is if it was live rather than recorded.
The production quality of this CD is top notch-clean, full and balanced. There are also brief, yet nicely written and informative liner notes. I find this CD to be very recommendable, despite my particular objection (other listeners may prefer Orion's choices in tempo), largely on the account that the Orion Quartet and Peter Serkin are extraordinary fine musicians that can perform Romantic compositions such as Dvorak's with both masterful command and individual expression.