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A marked contrast

Two piano quintets -

'Exemplary performances, excellent recording and presentation ...'

Hahn and Vierne Piano Quintets. (p) 2001 Hyperion Records Ltd


Hyperion, like Naxos, put us constantly in their debt by offering music from off the beaten track that deserves to be heard. Here we are presented with two French piano quintets from the first quarter of the last century, written within a decade of each other, so the coupling seems an apt one. That said, however, the contrast between the two is very marked in style, mood and technique.

Those who think of Hahn exclusively as a composer of charming songs are in for a real treat. His assured handling of a larger form will be a very rewarding discovery. The quintet is delightful and accomplished, to return to with pleasure. It is not a work that attempts to storm the heavens or to astonish by its profundity, but it certainly conveys the real purpose of music -- to refresh the spirit and to enable both performers and listeners to share in the composer's mastery of form, content and instrumental colour. The infectious commitment of Stephen Coombs and the Chilingarians convey this with their immaculate advocacy.

Listen, for example, to the opening, where the rather dramatic direction molto agitaro e con fuoco launches into a theme that Brahms might have written in a mood halfway between his 'serious' style and the world of the Hungarian Dances. The slow movement is ravishing in its plaintive melancholy, building from a rapt accompanied cello solo anticipating that in Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du Temps. Then, sit back and enjoy the light-hearted rondo-like finale, guaranteed to bring a smile to the face. A lovely, uncomplicated piece I am grateful to have discovered.

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Copyright © 24 November 2001 David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK







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