Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Antonin Dvorak, Orion String Quartet, Peter Serkin|
String Quartet Op 96: American
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 t... more »
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
An excellant CD, with only one flaw
treestamp | 07/20/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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. If only the Orion musicians had more faith in Dvorak's instructions, this recording could have unquestionably earned 5 stars.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."
treestamp | 01/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."