Happy in NYC | New York, NY United States | 07/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though this is indeed an unusual combination, I don't agree with the previous reviewer -- there is absolutely no reason to give this wonderful CD less than 5 stars. In fact, if I could, I'd give it more! Both pieces, I must admit neither of which was I familiar with before this, are exquisite jewels of Schubertian melody and beautiful, unexpected harmonic turns. The quintet is played with much love and devotion by the Marlboro crew assembled, and what can one say about the other piece -- "The Shepherd On The Rock"? The legendary Rudolf Serkin is at the piano (a better chamber player never existed), the brilliant Harold Wright is on clarinet, and the beguiling, bewitching soprano Benita Valente is at peak form here -- such purity of tone and lovely, delicate phrasing! This piece was recorded in the late 50's, but not to worry -- the sonics are just fine. This was truly a find. Personal note: this was recommended to me by the great Rudolf Serkin's grandson -- how could I resist? I'm glad to report that he certainly didn't let me down!"
Still as Lovely a Recording of these Schubert Jewels as any
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though recorded in 1986 at a live performance at the Marlboro Festival where outdoor ambience can either enhance or detract from 'pure music', this elegant recording of The Schubert Quintet in C major coupled with 'The Shepherd on the Rock' is right up there with the best of them. The quintet is especially sensitively played and the recorded sound, while a bit forward, still encourages appreciation of the communication among the five string performers.
"The Shepherd on the Rock" is a favorite work, loved by chamber musicians. Written for voice, piano and clarinet - each of equal importance - it is a lovely mood piece. The performers here are the inimitable Rudolf Serkin playing with his usual refinement, Harold Wright providing the clarinet obbligato, and the rare opportunity to hear Benite Valente in top form, sailing through Schubert's lines and high tessitura with seemingly no effort.
If you are looking for the most open and tender 'Shepherd' available, look no further. A very fine recording of an important music festival that celebrated some of our best musicians. Grady Harp, April 05"
A particularly pastoral Schubert
danielinyaracuy | San Felipe, Yaracuy Venezuela | 12/18/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On occasion we come across a piece that catches our heart for no apparent reason. It is not the greatest one ever, nor it needs to be a supreme quality achievment. It just needs a certain "je ne sais quoi" that allows it to reach to our "inner musical child". This recording did it to me. Not for the quintet, which is superbly played anyway, but for "The Shepherd on the rock". We have Benita Valente singing the amorous longing of a young shepherd, accompanied by a clarinet and a piano (Wright and the great Rudolf Serkin). A most unusual combination. The effect is terrific. And the accomplished performance is a big plus. I would have given it a 5 stars, but the quality of the recording and the mismatching of the two pieces makes me take one star off. But by all means I recommend it highly."
A Schubert masterpiece
Alan Lekan | Boulder, CO | 03/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Many consider Schubert's String Quintet one of THE pinnacle masterpieces in the entire chamber repertoire. With its many and diverse emotional moods, memorable lyrical themes, dense textures, and its tonal richness from 5 strings (w/ two cellos), the quintet is clearly a masterpiece. Much of Schubert's chamber and leider music flowed from small, festive gatherings with his musical friends ("Schubertiades") and that kind of intimate spirit is captured in this festive, live performance. This recording can compete with the best in terms of sound and performance and is quite lively and vivid - partly from the dynamic of a live performance. You can clearly feel this energy and a sense of spontaneous music-making in the highly-spirited last two movements of the quintet. Lead violinist Pamela Frank brings a gorgeous tone and technique to these works - albiet one more focused on the moment than on clinical perfection in a studio. While not the highest-profile violinist around, Ms. Frank brings a refined technique and much artistry to the music she plays (her Beethoven violin sonatas being one fine example).
For those not familiar with the Marlboro Festival ... no, it was not an event sponsored by the cigarette company but was an annual summer gathering for decades in rural Marlboro, Vermont of some of the best veteran and budding talents (like Ma, Perahia) headed by the legendary pianist and teacher, Rudolf Serkin. The quintet was recorded in 1986 while the song in 1960 which is quite lovely here. With minimal agenda and pressure in a lovely retreat setting, these musician followed their deepest musical inclinations, honed their talents among legends and often came up with memorable performances such as this Schubert quintet. Compare the clips to others and you can sense how good it is.
As much as I admire the polished (studio) version of the Quintet from the Alban Berg Quartet, I must say I like this version even more for its live dynamic and the way the background strings create a greater sense of drama in the final movement by sustaining their harmony passages versus a more stacatto effect as most others do. Plus, the Marlboro group gives the first movement its due drama by retaining the often-omitted repeat. Another strong performance comes from the Emerson Quartet on DG if you like their bolder manner of playing. The second song piece on this CD (with piano, clarinet accompanyment) is most lovely and sensitively played/sung. I am not familiar with Schubert's songs, but it seems the gently-meandering and melodic performance here captures what he must have had in mind. From such songs with their natural spontaneity and lyricism, you can appreciate why Schubert was one of the finest and prolific composers in the leider genre. 4.5 stars.
Note: while the Amazon text lists Yo Yo Ma as one of the two cellists, it is not the case (Wiley, Lichten)."
Alan Lekan | 10/26/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Quintet in C on this disc is a marvellous, enthusiastic version, well-played and clearly recorded. The participants bring out nuances of the individual parts that you might not have noticed before. And the ensemble as a whole makes a very well organized and effective version of a great piece of music."