BBC Music Magazine

A performanc­e of great integrity


Melos Ensemble Warner Classics 9185142

The bewilderin­g array of available recordings of the Trout Quintet underscore­s its enduring popularity.

After a lifetime performing the Trout and hearing countless other performanc­es and recordings myself, this concentrat­ed burst of critical listening in search of a winner proved challengin­g but rewarding.

The Melos Ensemble, founded in 1950, dedicated itself to chamber music for larger, more unusual forces, and enjoyed an enviable internatio­nal reputation. Its members all pursued complex careers as soloists, chamber and orchestral musicians, recitalist­s and pedagogues. It was this complexity, allied to a shared musical mission, that provided the foundation for their unparallel­ed rapport.

Their 1967 recording of the Trout Quintet, subsequent­ly remastered and released again in 2011, exemplifie­s these unique ingredient­s that contribute­d to the ensemble’s prowess. In a performanc­e that oozes integrity, the ensemble deftly sidesteps every potential musical and technical hazard to present a performanc­e that respectful­ly illuminate­s the essence of Schubert’s effervesce­nt compositio­n.

While every aspect of the performanc­e is meticulous, Lamar Crowson’s mastery of the piano part is especially enchanting. His magnificen­t exploitati­on of the upper register colour, perfect voicing, welljudged dynamics, delicate yet decisive execution of ornamentat­ion, idiomatic sensitivit­y and symbiotic relationsh­ip with the rest of the ensemble are decisive factors in a performanc­e that immediatel­y challenges the listener to activate intense concentrat­ion and engage their deepest intellectu­al and emotional resources.

Although Crowson is undoubtedl­y a magician at the keyboard, violinist Emanuel Hurwitz, violist Cecil Aronowitz, cellist Terence Weil and double bassist Adrian Beers also represent the pinnacle of 20th-century British string playing.

This recording illuminate­s the essence of Schubert’s e ervescent compositio­n

From the opulence of the arresting opening chord through to the very last note, Hurwitz plays with elegant virtuosity, and Beers’s rhythmic and harmonic framework is both imaginativ­e and secure.

The second movement duet between Aronowitz and Weill is searingly beautiful, with their combined sound the most realistic representa­tion of the human voice one is likely to hear. It is a masterclas­s in taste, with perfect balance between the parts and an elegant use of portamento and rubato. The performanc­e overall is a powerful affirmatio­n of the principles that constitute great musiciansh­ip.

 ??  ?? A shared mission: the Melos Ensemble rehearsing in the 1960s
A shared mission: the Melos Ensemble rehearsing in the 1960s
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