Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
The New York Times
September 2015

'So gorgeous I want to inject it into my veins.' Those were the words I blurted out to a fellow critic about the slow movement of Leo Ornstein’s stunning Piano Quintet after I first heard it performed by this first-rate group of musicians two years ago at Carnegie Hall. Here, finally, is a recording of this epically proportioned forgotten treasure, written in 1927 in Philadelphia by Ornstein, a Ukrainian-born piano virtuoso and composer who died in 2002 at the age of 108. Ornstein goes for the jugular in the febrile outer movements, shot through with Russian folk material and rhythmic fire, but offers respite in the achingly tender Andante Lamentoso. His nervous, simmering String Quartet No 2, written around 1929, is another interesting document of Ornstein’s late Romantic style, but it’s the Quintet that now ought to be picked up by intrepid performers and presenters and given its due in the chamber music canon.