July 25th 2008

Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
String Quartet in E minor Op83
Allegro moderato
Piacevole (poco andante)
Allegro Molto
Piano Quintet in A minor Op84
Andante - Allegro
Maggini String Quartet
Peter Donohoe, Piano
Naxos 8.553737

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This disc was recorded in 1995 so was too early to be reviewed by MusicWeb but it has been a firm favourite in my collection because of the dynamic performance of the Piano Quartet with Donohoe and the Magginis at white heat. This is one of the bargains of the catalogue and should not be missed. As we have not reviewed it I feel able to add some quotes from the Naxos web-site:

"The Adagio of Elgar's Quintet is alone worth the price of the CD...beautifully captured by the Maggini Quartet and Peter Donohoe" - Classic CD
"the Maggini Quartet impress with the luminous refinement and beguiling tonal beauty of their music-making" - Gramophone
"Peter Donohoe is outstanding in the Quintet" - BBC Music Magazine

Our own Christopher Fifield has written
The Piano Quintet also has the same air of melancholy as the quartet, stemming no doubt from his concurrent work on the cello concerto which was next to come, though it tends to more eerie moments - apparently a group of dead trees near the cottage affected Elgar when writing the piece in 1919, 'a ghostly sight in the evening'. The work is notable for its ebb and flow of rubato as well as its varied moods. The sublime Adagio drew the best music from Elgar. No less memorable are the brilliantly coloured guitar-like effects towards the end of the first movement and the Spanish element which Reed likened to a local legend of monks in the area but which is now pretty convincingly debunked and attributed to Elgar's friend Algernon Blackwood, a writer of ghost stories. The finale, with its cyclical references to the first movement, has both passion and subdued sensitivity true to the Elgarian idiom.

Piano Quintet 1st Mv Moderato here
Piano Quintet 2nd Mv adagio here
Piano Quintet 3rd Mv andante - Allegro here

Previous Quiz items and answers here




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