First Pick: Schubert's "Trout" Piano Quintet

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First Pick: Schubert's "Trout" Piano Quintet

Post by Lance » Sun Aug 07, 2005 11:23 pm

Ah yes, the Trout Quintet by Schubert (1797-1828). I've been listening recently to a fairly new Divine Art CD from England [25026] in a transcription for piano duet by Joseph Czerny (1785-1831). The performers are the husband-wife team of Goldstone & Clemmow, world-class pianists. This is a disc called "The Unauthorised Piano Duos." Does it work for piano-four-hands? You bet, though at times it misses something without the complement of strings, but the ear adjusts quickly. Now, I'll get off this tangent and get back to the real Piano Quintet.

FIRST PICK: Clifford Curzon, piano; Vienna Octet Members, Decca-London CD 417.459 [also in other Decca incarnations].

Schubert's masterpiece was composed in 1819 when he was 21. In five movements, the work incorporates Schubert's lied, "Die Forelle" ("The Trout") into the song at the request of the man who commissioned the work (and to whom it is also dedicated), Sylvester Paumgartner (great grandfather of the celebrated conductor, Bernhard Paumgartner). The fourth movement of the quintet's unconventional five movements, is the Theme and Variations (I-V), which utilizes the "Die Forelle" song to the best advantage, requiring a virtuoso pianist to bring it off. Using just a small bit of imagination, one can see/feel this trout traveling along through the ultra-clear, unspoiled waters of the day. Schubert's musical thoughts here are absolutely thrilling.

Aside from the need of a virtuoso pianist, the work calls for supremely gifted string players—violin, viola, cello, and a double-bass. In this First Pick, recorded in 1957 in Vienna's acoustically superb Sofiensaal, we find among the best of the best musicians insofar as good, solid readings are concerned. The piano is the instrument that keeps the whole ensemble together with its prominence, and Curzon's variety of shadings paints a musical portrait of a very active trout! Throughout, this is precision playing at its finest.

Alternate picks would be Emil Gilels, piano, with the Amadeus Quartet Members, Rainer Zepperitz, double-bass [DGG 413.453, possibly other catalogue numbers as well]. I was not as enamoured of the Emanuel Ax/Guarneri Quartet Members 1983 version on RCA [635989] ... a little too subdued for this listener ... and this is a happy piece! You can't go wrong with Rudolf Serkin's Sony performance [37234 and other numbers] with his entourage of Jaime Laredo, Naegele, Parnas, and Julius Levine, double-bass. Probably the least homogenized performance I have on CD includes pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski with Budapest Quartet Members on Sony [44847]. Not a great piece for the celebrated Horszowski, whose playing is labored at times; the strings find him lagging noticely behind on occasion.

These are my picks ... and there's even others [such as Artur Schnabel/Pro Arte, etc.]. So what's your First Pick?
Lance G. Hill

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]



Post by Brendan » Sun Aug 07, 2005 11:35 pm

After seeing the documentary with Barenboim, du Pre and Perlman I had to get the rec. What joy du Pre could express in the wonder on her face when listening to Dame Janet Baker sing for them!

First pick remains Gilels and Amadeus for me, however.

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Post by Holden Fourth » Mon Aug 08, 2005 2:31 pm

Stereo - Clifford Curzon, piano; Vienna Octet Members.

Historic - Schnabel piano, Pro Arte Quartet. (Better than the Curzon so this is my first pick)

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Post by springrite » Mon Aug 08, 2005 7:41 pm

Gilels and the Amadeus for me as well.
Music starts where words fail.

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Post by Werner » Mon Aug 08, 2005 9:51 pm

Three others: (most recent:) Emanuel Ax, piano; Pamels Frank, violin'; Rebecca Young, Viola; Yo-Yo Ma, Cello; Edgar Meyer, Bass

(Originally on Vanguard LP:) Peter Serkin, Piano; Alexander Schneider, Violin; Michael Tree, Viola; David Soyer, Cello; Julius Levine, Bass

Hisotric: Adrian Aeschbacher, piano, with Koeckert Quartet (string players not otherwise identified - Originally on DG - relesed in US by Decca, late Fifties.)
Werner Isler

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Post by Gurn Blanston » Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:19 am

L'Archibudelli on SONY, along with a super Arpeggione Sonata and Piano Trio. A very well played and wonderfully toned performance. :D

That's my opinion, I may be wrong

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Post by karlhenning » Tue Aug 09, 2005 9:21 am

Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
Published by Lux Nova Press


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