September 18, 2021

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Classical Album Overview: American Quintets – Why Has it Taken so Long?

3 min read

By Jonathan Blumhofer

This disc from the London-dependent Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective pairs piano quintets by Amy Beach front and Florence Cost with Samuel Barber’s haunting “Dover Beach front.”

It’s taken a extended time — more than seventy many years — but the chamber songs (at least) of Amy Beach and Florence Price would seem to be gaining a toehold in the repertoire. At minimum that is a single takeaway from the debut recording of the London-dependent Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective (KCC), which pairs piano quintets by these two American women of all ages with Samuel Barber’s haunting Dover Seashore.

The most intriguing entry right here is Price’s Piano Quintet. Uncovered in 2009 in a cache of scores in an abandoned house in Illinois, no 1 is familiar with for selected when it was penned (while scholarship indicates that it was probably composed about 1935). As in most of her massive-scale compositions, the Quintet’s 4 actions equilibrium Price’s late-Intimate stylistic sensibilities with musical influences from her African-American heritage.

To be guaranteed, the latter inspire some of the Quintet’s finest times. The slow movement, for instance, with its fervent, non secular-like harmonic progressions and melodic phrasings, is amazing. And the greatly syncopated, gamboling “Juba” motion wishes absolutely nothing for generate, attraction, or freewheeling power.

In the outer actions, Price’s creating is focused and Romantic. But it is also a little bit rigorous and, by comparison to the central ones, formally stuffy. That’s not to say the audio lacks coronary heart or enthusiasm — the first, in distinct, provides the two in spades — just that its debts to Brahms and Dvorak are extra obvious than not.

Possibly way, the Quintet is an inviting piece and this, its premiere recording, need to gain the rating a sturdy following. The KCC digs into the music during, ably illuminating its hectic textures and troves of tunes. Tom Poster’s execution of the Quintet’s intensely chaotic piano component is nothing at all limited of epic. Certainly, this reading through feels like just the kind of “event” of which Price’s music is so deserving.

Beach’s 1907 Piano Quintet has been a little bit improved served this previous 50 percent-century — although not by a great deal. Like the Value, its 3 actions draw on the affect of Brahms as in the Price tag, Beach’s natural, lyrical voice makes certain that the proceedings under no circumstances devolve into mawkish imitation.

There is lots to admire in the KCC’s studying: the group’s awareness to specifics of dynamics and balances is eager their playing technically completed and their sense for some of Beach’s tempestuous, intensive composing is quite high-quality.

That claimed, this interpretation lacks a degree of the sweep and sustained brio of final year’s recording of the exact same from Garrick Ohlsson and the Tákacs Quartet. This is most apparent in the outer movements, which come across, structurally, a little bit slackly. Best is the KCC’s choose on the soaring central movement, which is neatly directed and formed.

In in between the Quintets comes Barber’s 1931 placing of Matthew Arnold’s famed poem.

Bass Matthew Rose sings with trueness of pitch, fantastic diction, and absorbing tonal concentration. The KCC’s accompaniment is flowing, urgent, and bleak in other text, it’s outstanding.


Jonathan Blumhofer is a composer and violist who has been active in the increased Boston location considering the fact that 2004. His new music has received many awards and been carried out by numerous ensembles, such as the American Composers Orchestra, Kiev Philharmonic, Camerata Chicago, Xanthos Ensemble, and Juventas New Audio Group. Considering that acquiring his doctorate from Boston College in 2010, Jon has taught at Clark University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and on the net for the University of Phoenix, in addition to producing tunes criticism for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

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