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SCHU­BERT: WORKS FOR SOLO PIANO VOL 1 Barry Dou­glas (piano) Chan­dos CHAN 10807

Barry Dou­glas in­ter­rupts his Brahms se­ries for Chan­dos to start a new one fo­cus­ing on Schu­bert. The first disc, recorded in the Cur­tis Au­di­to­rium of the CIT School of Mu­sic last Septem­ber, in­cludes the late Sonata in B flat, D960, and the Wan­derer Fan­tasy, sep­a­rated by two songs (Du bist die Ruh and Ungeduld) in ar­range­ments by Liszt. Dou­glas is flex­i­ble and ru­mi­na­tive in the sonata, and fleet of fin­ger and rapid of wrist in the fan­tasy, where he is also prob­ing in the dark and stormy slow move­ment. You may balk at the speed of Du bist die Ruh, taken with a lungchal­leng­ing slow­ness that leaves the idea of singing far be­hind. In gen­eral, how­ever, this collection shows Dou­glas as a con­ge­nial Schu­ber­tian.


KHACHA­TURIAN: VI­O­LIN CON­CERTO; SHOSTAKOVICH: STRING QUAR­TETS 7&8 James Ehnes (vi­o­lin), Mel­bourne Sym­phony Orches­tra/ Mark Wigglesworth, Ehnes Quar­tet Onyx 4121

Cana­dian violinist James Ehnes cou­ples Khacha­turian’s cheer­fully gar­ru­lous 1940 Vi­o­lin Con­certo with two of Shostakovich’s finest string quar­tets, both writ­ten in 1960s: the Sev­enth, ded­i­cated to the mem­ory of his first wife, Nina; and the Eighth, writ­ten “In mem­ory of the vic­tims of fas­cism and war”. Khacha­turian knew how to write good tunes and se­duc­tive har­monies, and he spiced his work with folksy touches. The Vi­o­lin Con­certo is un­duly repet­i­tive, and Ehnes works hard to make each mo­ment seem fresh. His quar­tet’s play­ing is pol­ished, the Eighth Quar­tet not al­ways find­ing the right bleak res­ig­na­tion. The cryptic Sev­enth is much more suc­cess­ful.


PIERNÉ PIANO QUIN­TET; VIERNE: STRING QUAR­TET Piers Lane (piano), Gold­ner Quar­tet Hype­r­ion CDA 68036

If you’re fond of César Franck’s piano quin­tet and won­dered if any­one else ever wrote an­other work in the same spirit, you’ll be de­lighted to dis­cover the 1917 quin­tet by Franck’s pupil, Gabriel Pierné. From its mys­te­ri­ous open­ing, through the lopsided lilt­ing of its cen­tral move­ment in­flu­enced by the zortz­ico (a Basque dance), to the the­matic cu­mu­la­tion of the full-on fi­nale, this 40-minute piece sounds to­tally con­vinc­ing in the im­pas­sioned read­ing by Piers Lane and the Gold­ner Quar­tet. The 1894 String Quar­tet by Louis Vierne, an­other Franck pupil, best re­mem­bered for his or­gan mu­sic, is an al­to­gether lighter af­fair. Think of the com­poser’s more deft or­gan pieces and you’ll be on the right lines.


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