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Hyperion Records

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Afternoon in the Park by Hippolyte Petitjean (1854-1929)
Phillips Fine Art / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67431/2
Recording details: July 2004
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Release date: May 2005
Total duration: 30 minutes 26 seconds

'…this is a set of sheer delight: let's hear it for imaginative conservatism' (Gramophone)

'These are full-blooded performances, packed with energy and colour, and every corner is turned under complete control' (BBC Music Magazine)

'It is repertoire that really shows up the ensemble's strengths and its ability to encompass the richest ensemble-playing, as well as the exposed solo work required of the accompanied sonata medium … there is plenty of mellifluously drawn melodic writing, playful harmonic twists and textural ingenuity to enjoy' (The Daily Telegraph)

'It is a charming collection, beautifully played; this is precisely the repertoire in which the Nash excels … The opening cantilena of the Oboe Sonata is positively rapturous … just as the mysterious fugal introduction to the finale of the early Piano Quintet [is] fabulously played by cellist Paul Watkins and violist Lawrence Power' (The Guardian)

'[The] Sonatas are all played with an ideal combination of infectious virtuosity and phrasal sensitivity to have these all-too-rarely heard works come dancing off the page. Sensational flautist Philippa Davies is on hand to add her own special brand of artistry … and producer Andrew Keener and engineer Simon Eadon typically capture the proceedings with their usual magical blend of warmth and clarity, making this an issue to cherish. The Nash Ensemble could hardly wish for a finer musical testimonial in this their fortieth birthday year' (International Record Review)

'a splendid two-disc set … mounted with that special sparkle they always bring to French repertoire' (The Times)

'A legend in his own lifetime, Saint-Saëns tantalises us with distinctive, lively and imaginative pieces, explored and played with terrific vivacity and style' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The Nash Ensemble, a British organisation that alters its makeup as the situation requires, has a long and distinguished history on record. This latest offering continues the tradition. Warmly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

Piano Quintet in A minor, Op 14
composer

Presto  [4'58]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Piano Quintet in A minor Op 14, Saint-Saëns’s earliest cyclic composition, was composed in 1855, but only published ten years later. It is dedicated to the composer’s great-aunt Charlotte Gayard Masson, who lived with him and his mother and gave him his first piano lessons. The piano plays a dominant virtuoso role, often in opposition to the string quartet, but also engaging in dialogue, ensemble, contrapuntal, and unison passages.

The first movement, Allegro moderato e maestoso in common time, provides a chordal introduction, repeated within the movement, followed by the statement and development of three portentous themes, and a recapitulation featuring a cadenza for the piano. The lyrical second movement, Andante sostenuto in F major in 3/8 time, presents a serious, noble chorale-like theme on the piano answered by the strings, joined by a second cantabile theme initiated by the viola followed by the quartet, and then a reprise of the first theme. The third movement, an A minor Presto in 6/8, consists of a moto perpetuo using two active motifs, a more expressive middle section, and a coda suggesting the opening of the quintet. The final movement, Allegro assai, ma tranquillo in A major, contains a fugato built on a scale-like theme for the strings followed by a second lyrical theme for the full ensemble, then enmeshes the two contrapuntally, and finally invokes the second theme of the first movement. This youthful work projects a frank and confident mood.

from notes by Sabina Teller Ratner © 2005

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