Suk's works for piano and strings constitute the best of his chamber music (the string quartets, though rewarding, are slightly tougher nuts), and the three works here (the piano trio didn't fit) receive splendid performances all around. The early piano quartet (his official op.1) is an ebullient, melodic work of high spirits and general optimism. It is spry and rhythmically alive, excellently crafted and imaginative with a truly rewarding final movement. The later pieces for violin and piano are mature, well-crafted small-scale works with memorable themes and a wide variety of colors and atmospheres. Still, it is the piano quintet which is the centerpiece of the disc, an inspired and inspirational work of warm melodies, long arches and smoldering energy - reminiscent, perhaps, of Dvorak's quintet and not infinitely inferior in quality.
Fortunately the performances are as ebullient, warm and spry as the music itself. The quartet is imbued with all the color, variety and spirit it calls for and the quintet is as convincingly done as I could possibly imagine. In the four pieces Marianne Thorsen gives us wonderfully phrased, fresh and sweet playing, and she is sensitively backed up by Ian Brown. In addition to such marvelous performances we get interesting and informative notes and top-notch recorded sound. All in all, then, this is a fabulous release that deserves the widest possible circulation.