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Hyperion Records

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The Plough Team (detail) by Alfred Weczerzick (1864-1952)
Private Collection / Phillips Fine Art Auctioneers / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55416
Recording details: December 2003
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: June 2004
Total duration: 33 minutes 40 seconds

'Lovely fare, performed with great polish and heartwarming dedication by The Nash Ensemble, and all cleanly captured by the microphones. This disc will surely provide much pleasure' (Gramophone)

'All of the performances on this excellently recorded disc are exemplary' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The Nash Ensemble play these richly rewarding works with style and feeling' (The Independent)

'This is Suk viewed from the 'dark side' and very much more impressive than he usually sounds. Brown balances the introspective sensibility and dramatic onward surge of this music to perfection, and his distinguished colleagues follow him every inch of the way. Enhanced by yet another first-rate Andrew Keener production, this exceptional release comes highly recommended' (International Record Review)

'Dazzlingly violinistic and brilliantly played by Marianne Thorsen and Ian Brown' (The Sunday Times)

'The Nash Ensemble plays with all its customary skill and insight, highlighted by the remarkable pianism of Ian Brown' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Even if the recordings featuring violinist Josef Suk (the composer's grandson) were easier to find, these fresh-sounding, light-textured Nash Ensemble interpretations would hold their own in the catalog. Excellent engineering and informative notes too. A magnificent release' (Fanfare, USA)

Piano Quintet in G minor, Op 8
1893; published in 1915; dedicated to Brahms

Allegro energico  [8'18]
Scherzo: Presto  [5'55]
Allegro fuoco  [9'32]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Although the Piano Quintet in G minor Op 8 was published in 1915 it was, in fact, composed in 1893, relatively early in Suk’s career. The Quintet is dedicated to Brahms, an old friend of Dvorák, who had already given Suk advice and encouragement. The influence of the German composer can be felt in the rhetoric of certain passages, notably in the first movement. But the Quintet is far from being a compendium of youthful enthusiasms for the work of more venerable composers; many aspects of the melodic style, in particular, are typical of Suk throughout his career.

The Quintet’s first movement opens in robust fashion with vigorous motion in all parts and soaring lines for viola and cello. Throughout this bracing movement the impetus rarely flags, although there are moments of repose; the last of these is in an extended passage based around G major. This leads into a bouncy coda which, just before the major-key close, broadens out into a grand final peroration. The Adagio lives up to its secondary marking, Religioso, with an inspiring chant-like opening in which chords for the strings alternate with sweeping arpeggios for the piano. The cello leads the melodic material of a central section which results in a remarkably ardent climax.

An airy pentatonic theme, a common feature in Czech music since the early days of Smetana and Dvorák, introduces an extended scherzo which, while embracing counterpoint and energetic development, provides an aspiring, almost bardic theme for the viola. Unsurprisingly, there is a passing homage to Dvorák’s great A major Piano Quintet in the trio, but Suk’s youthful adventurousness takes his attractively harmonized main theme in unexpected directions before the return of the scherzo. Dvorák’s Quintet seems to be a presence again in the a tempo introduction to the finale, perhaps also in the fugato passage in the development. But Suk’s individuality is evident at many stages, not least in some piquant harmony and the inventive transformation of the main theme of the first movement, which provides much of the finale’s material.

from notes by Jan Smaczny © 2004

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