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Label:
  New Classical Adventure - http://www.ncamusic.com/
Serial:
  60193 (2 discs)
Title:
  Gewandhaus-Quartett in Concert
Description:
  Schubert: String Quintet in C major D.956, Spohr: Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra in A minor Op. 131, Schumann: Piano Quintet in E flat Op. 44, Schubert: Piano Quintet in A major D.667 "Trout"

Gewandhaus-Quartett
Track listing:
 
Genre:
  Classical - Chamber
Content:
  Stereo/Multichannel
Media:
  Hybrid
Recording type:
 
Recording info:
 

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Related titles: 2


 
Reviews: 1

Review by Arthur December 17, 2008 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I hesitated to write a review in part because I really didn't feel the urge to listen to the Trout Quintet with quite the care necessary for a review. Let me get those comments out of the way quickly. I've only listened to it once--and that while enjoying a bottle of wine with my wife. It made for an enjoyable experience, but probably not the best for critical judgment. This version is abridged as Beagle pointed out. There are also changes of pitch, level and acoustic where the 78 sides were patched. Having said all that, the sound is pretty good for 1928, and the performance gives fascinating insight into changing performing styles. There is much more portamento here than in the modern performances, and the performance is more "in your face" with more emphasis on the main lines at the expense of subsidiary ones. This may be partly the fault of the recording technology. But it seems to me they were making a conscious choice to give more of an "overview" reading with the byways left to others to explore.

I listened to the other performances several times--at least twice each in surround, and the Schubert/Spohr CD layer in my car (not the best for critical listening either, but a least I can report that there is not a severe difference in perspective on CD.

The Schubert String Quintet is one of my favorite pieces. I believe it to be among the handful of greatest masterpieces of Romanticism. The earlier Prazak recording got four excellent reviews on this site, including one by me. The Prazak is more stern in their approach than the Gewandhaus. The stormy episode in the slow movement is quite earth-shattering, whereas the Gewandhaus lets the argument unfold more naturally. The Prazak plays up the debt to Beethoven in the Scherzo, whereas the Gewandhaus makes one feel the folksy Laendler quality. It's the exact opposite of what I would have expected! If I could only have one version, I'd opt for the Gewandhaus, but if you already have the Prazak and can't afford another, you've still got a wonderful performance.

But what about the Schumann Quintet? Aha! You see, even if you own the Prazak, you should not be without the Schumann Quintet, and this recording is a great one. If you've heard the other Gewandhaus discs, you know what to expect: they are Germans through and through, and they feel the rhyhms and phrasing in a way that is beyond compare! This is a "soft" performance. This is a work where Schumann gushes and the exuberance can make ensembles strain. The Gewandhaus simply RELAX. They let you feel the exuberance because it is in the notes, not because they are putting emphasis on them. This is a really fine performance!

The Spohr is new to me. I've given it my best shot, but though it is pleasant, it doesn't really strike me as inspired--at least not on the level of the other works on this disc. Perhaps he simply couldn't write great themes like Schubert seemingly could in his sleep. Or perhaps it's the scoring. Too often it sounds like virtuosic soloists and I found myself wondering why he bothered adding an orchestra. Perhaps the quartet is moved a little bit too forward, but I think the real problem is simply the writing. It was certainly pleasant enough, and I'll be glad to pull it out every once in a while, but it is not essential like the others!

Sound, aside from the reservation just noted, is very clean and natural. You can feel the players clearly positioned across the stage and their interplay is a marvel to behold! There is none of the strain that is felt occasionally in the Prazak recording.

A winner!

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Works: 4  

Franz Schubert - Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667 "Forellen"
Franz Schubert - String Quintet in C major, D. 956
Robert Schumann - Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44
Louis Spohr - Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 131