Another Chamber Classic
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 10/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Is there a better Chamber Quartet out there than Emanuel Ax, Isaac Stern, Jamie Laredo and Yo-Yo Ma? I think not. The men behind a string of brilliant Piano Quartet recordings by Brahms, Faure and Mozart, ring in the 21st Century with this terrific recording of Dvorak's Second Piano Quartet, Op. 87. Originally I considered purchasing, based on Amazon's recommendation, the Emerson String Quartet disc that couples this piece with Dvorak's Piano Quintet. But a knowledgeable friend had reservations about that title, and instead suggested Juilliard's Sony Essential Classic CD which features the Piano Quintet (with Rudolf Firkusny) and the "American" String Quartet. I am delighted to own that amazing disc, but it still left me needing to find an acceptable Piano Quartet recording. Well, this CD not only filled the void in my collection, but also the void in my life. Just kidding, but it is a first rate rendition of the Quartet. The disc's remaining material has pianist Robert McDonald joining Stern on Romantic Pieces for Violin and Piano and the Sonatina in G Major for Violin and Piano, and while the latter piece was written for Dvorak's kids, there is nothing amateurish about it. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, rewarding collection of Dvorak's music played lovingly and enthusiastically by some of today's master musicians."
A great addition to the Dvorak discography
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 08/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The fact that this CD has received only a single review since 2000 attests to the hard sell that faces chamber music. Even experienced listeners are not likely to have come across a live performance of Dvorak's Op. 87 Piano Quartet. Most ensembles automatically head for the more famous Piano Quintet. In any event, this is a beautiful mature work bursting with Dvorak's trademakr melodies and earthy energy. The passionate slow movement proves a major highlight. Dvorak's powers of development weren't the strongest, so one can't rank this work with the great piano quartets by Brahms and Mozart. It certainly comes close, however.
Needless to say, the star solists in the quartet are superb. However, Sony gives them rather rough, tight recorded sound. The recording was made in 1996 at Tanglewood in the new Seiji Ozawa Hall. The fillers, simple but charming parlor pieces for violin and piano, were recorded at George Lucas's Sykwalker Ranch in California (was Isaac Stern a Star Wars fan?) In all, this is a must-listen for chamber music lovers."