Intense performances dominated by the strings
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 12/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These readings of the Schumann and Dvorak piano quintets come from live concerts, the Schumann from Carnegie Hall (1995), the Dvorak from Vienna (1993). Both are dominated by the Alban Berg Quartet, who seemed to have only two modes, impressively intense and frighteningly intense. Fortunatley, they aren't firghtening in the Dvorak, which proceeds at middling tempos without fireworks. Rudolf Buchbinder is placed forward, but in terms of expressivity he's no match for the ABQ. One longs for a superlative pianist here, yet Buchbinder is nowhere less than very good. The second movement Andante could be more tender; the last two movements are buoyant and fresh. Overall, one could be satisfied with this as a first choice.
Philippe Entremont seems an odd musician to pair with the ABQ--it's a bit like a Parisian boulevardier out walking his four Dobermans. The engineers have put both piano and strings in the same sonic picture, neither overshadowing the other. Generally the pianist leads in this work because of Schumann's prefernce for the instrument, but here again the ABQ are musically more intense than Entremont. I must say, however, that he rises to the occasion. I was listening to him as mainly an accompanist, but he makes many points along the way, and the ABQ accommodate by reining in their fierceness in the Scherzo and finale. A superb reading overall, though it would have been nice, as in the Dvorak, to have a genius like Richter at the keyboard. Five stars."
March Eliot | Planet Earth | 07/26/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I don't much like seeking out recordings I dislike to review. I prefer to sing the praises of recordings that bring me joy than to complain about those which do not.
However, Sante Fe Listener's praise of this recording is so incomprehensible to me that I feel compelled to chime in. Here is my warning to prospective buyers: the performance of the Schumann quintet is a catastrophe. I believe I have never heard a sloppier chamber performance released by a major studio. And even though chamber music is a conversation among equals, it is nevertheless the pianist who is almost wholly to blame. Throughout the performance, Phillippe Entremont's playing is rhythmically, musically and dynamically sloppy and undisciplined. There is almost no blend between the piano and strings, nor any clear interpretation shaping the herky-jerky dynamics. Things really unravel in Schumann's glorious finale, which is totally ruined by Entremont's downright slovenly playing. And by slovenly, I mean appalling, cringe-with-embarrassment mistakes, such as the horribly flubbed notes at 0:40, 2:33 and elsewhere.
This is a live recording, so some mistakes are I suppose to be expected. But Entremont is a major professional pianist and what we hear is not the work of a professional. How does one explain it? Lack of rehearsal time? The audience dutifully applauds the performance at the end. But how any reviewer could listen to this CD and award it five stars baffles me (although I quite like SFL's metaphor of the "Parisian boulevardier out walking his four Dobermans").
As with many ABQ digital recordings I have listened to, the sound is rather shrill in the treble.
If you must have this recording, you should be aware that it has been released in a two-fer with the Brahms and Schubert Piano Quintets, available quite cheaply from third parties here on Amazon: Piano Quintets.
The good news is that there are many good recordings of the Schumann quintet. Here are some I really like.
Schumann, Brahms: Piano Quintets - Kodaly Quartet & Jeno Jando: my first, and a sentimental favorite
Schumann: Op. Nos. 44 & 47 - Emerson Quartet & Menahem Pressler: great fun; the Emersons, popularly known for their precise and cold playing, indulge in glissando and rubato all over the place
Schumann: Piano Quintet, String Quartets 1, 2 & 3 - Christian Zacharias, Cherubini Quartet--a very nice bargain if you like (or are curious about) Schumann's string quartets
Schumann, Brahms: Piano Quintets - Artemis Quartet & Leif Ove Andsnes --exciting, aggressive performance by an up-and-coming ensemble; Sante Fe Listener claims this performance of the Schumann lacks personality; I disagree; but it does lack horribly incorrect piano playing"