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String Quartet; Piano Quintet

Ortiz; Fine Arts Quartet , Franckcesar Audio CD

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Following the release of their highly praised Naxos recording of Faure' Piano Quintets -'warmly expressive, their phrasing generous and intense' -Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet again join forces for this recording of Franck' Piano Quintet,

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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grandly Romantic Readings of Franck's Quintet and Quartet Jan. 27 2010
By Robin Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Cesear Franck (1822-1890) enjoyed a long career as an organist and composer, but he is best remembered for a series of masterworks composed during the last decade of his life. With his life of quiet, continuous effort culminating in romanticism, Franck is an inspiring figure. Franck's great decade of composition began and ended with works of chamber music. The Piano Quintet in f minor dates from 1880 while the String Quartet in D major was composed in 1890 just before Franck's death. Both the Quintet and the Quartet receive impassioned performances on this new Naxos CD with the Fine Arts Quartet and pianist Christina Ortiz.

I am familiar with other recordings of these works. The Quator Ludwig together with pianist Michael Levinas has an outstanding recording of the Quintet on Naxos. César Franck: Piano Quintet; Ernest Chausson: String Quartet And the Juilliard String Quartet has made a classic recording of the unfortunately too-little-known Quartet.String Quartets By Franck And Smetana With these and other fine recordings, this CD has a sweeping unabashedly passionate character that sets it apart. This is romantic music played with conviction, emotion, and contrast in long searing vibrato-filled phrases. The music drew me in at the outset and never let go.

The Quintet on any reading is a work of highly-charged emotion. Many listeners and writers of program notes find the music erotically charged. Camille Saint-Saens who first performed the virtuosic piano part vehemently disapproved of this work which Franck had dedicated to him. The quartet and Ortiz play with unrestrained feeling. The opening movement, "molto moderato quasi lento" opens with a wail in the strings which is contrasted with a slow, singing piano line. The lengthy movement full of contrasts in moods works in this performance to a fierce and sustained rhythmic climax for both quartet and piano. The second movement,"Lento, con molto sentimento" begins with a sad, prayerful theme which gradually develops into a song of great peace. The finale, "Allegro non troppo ma con fuoco" consists of music of great intensity which features the return of themes from the opening movement. This is a late romantic, deeply chromatic score. Many of Franck's works are described as "cyclic" in form because each movement shares similar thematic material. In listening, I find it useful not to worry too much about the form but to focus instead on the surging character of the music. This reading by the Fine Arts Quartet and Ortiz compels the listener to hear the passion without the potential distraction of the form.

While the Quintet is music of passion from beginning to end, Franck's late String Quartet in D major sometimes is given a cerebral, intellectual reading. Among other music, Franck's quartet shows the influence of Beethoven's late quartets. The Quartet is lengthy, difficult and, in some performances austure. It takes several hearings and careful listening to appreciate. But there is little of the austure in this performance. Here again, we are treated to a Franck who wears his heart on his sleeve. The emotions expressed in this music are varied, and Franck again uses interrelated themes in his four movements to unify the composition. The opening movement begins with a lengthy, tragic lento followed by a sonata section with themes of contrasting character and a fugual development. The second movement is a Mendelssohn- like scherzo with lively and swirling outer sections surrounding a melancholy trio. The third movement, with its singing and varied theme is the emotional center of the quartet. The work concludes with a varied Allegro molto finale which recapitulates the themes of the initial three movements before moving to a well-prepared triumphal close.

I received my first exposure to live chamber music in concerts of the Beethoven quartets that the Fine Arts Quartet performed in Milwaukee many years ago. The ensemble has been in continuous existence since 1946, but, of course, none of the current members of the group, Ralph Evans, Efim Boico, Yuri Gandelsman and Wolfgang Laufer were in the ensemble I knew. I still am pleased to know the ensemble still performs. With this beautiful recording, the Fine Arts Quartet and Ortiz show intimate music-making at its best.

Robin Friedman
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Franck chamber music Jan. 3 2014
By TONY L. ENGLETON C.N.M.T. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
01-03-2014 This is a performance by the Chicago based group known zs the Fine Arts QuARTET. THE WEREW STArted in 1946 aND ARE STILL PERFORMING And Rcording with new personal, but that same precission and eloquence they've always had. The current members arfe vciolinists This is my first recording, in any medium, from this fine ensemble. The current roster is made up of violinists RAPPH EVEANS AND EFIM BOICO, VIOLIST NICOLO EUGELMI AND THE CELLIST IF ROBERT COHEN. OFTEN THE GUESTS OF RADIO STATION WFMT-FMIN THE Windy City," I used to hear them play in the station's broadcasst studio downtown, a luxury I don't think any other American station has. If I may digress for a monent or two, WFMT-FM ias the finewst classical station in the worlds, for several reasons, the studio being just one of them. The have no, I repeat NO prerecorded commercials, as all ads are read aloud by the announcersin place at the desk. . For years now, they have been zAireing opening nightsx at thes Lyric Opera and weeekly CSO concerts on Sunday afternoons at 1 PM local trime. Taped, full length concerts from Philly, Cleveland, new Yoprk, Boston and sometimes from San Francisco nd/or DEtroit, Minneapolis and even the Chicago burbs were always an added attraction. Thdy publish the 24 hour per day program info in their Magazine "Chicago," along with resterazunt guides and ratings, dance, trheater and other fine arts information. With the assistance of long time and faithful sponsors, they present music "for people who want to listen, rather than listen passively. The announcers are low-key, educated and haVE PERFECT DICTION AND A LOYAL FOLLOWING. FOR YEARS, BEFORE THE COMING OUT PARTY FORF THED COMPACT DISK TECHNOLOGY EMERGED, I USED WFMT AS A SORT OF BLACKBOARD TO LEARN NEW WORKS AND BUILD MY LIBRARY TO THE HUGE ONE IT IS TODAY. I USED TO LIVE WITH MY WIFE IN NW INDIANA ABOUT 75-100 MILES FROM THE SEARS TOWER ANTEWNNA, AND AT THE MERCY OF THE ELEMENTS BUT NOW, I LISTEN OVER THE WEB. IF YOU WOULD OF TOLD ME THAT I WOULD SOMEDAY USE A COMPUTER TO LISTEN TO LIVE BEETHOVEN FROM ORCHESTRA HALL, I WOULD HAVE SUSPECTED YOU WERE SMOKING SOME SILLY STUFF! BUT NO, IT'S SIMPLY THE NEW AGES OF RADSIO. THESE FINE MUSICIANS kn ow no other way, I suppose. So, here they are in musaic opf cesar FraNCK, RECORDED IN SWITZERLAnd in mid September of 2008. I'll get to it right after some Friday night pizza and pop. To be continued>>>>>>>>>>
1 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars To be frank, I don't like it. Jan. 2 2011
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This CD contains a melodramatic piano quintet and a turgid quartet. The piano playing is quite good and I'd like to hear this pianist playing the Brahms or Dvorak piano quintet rather than Franck's overheated (overcooked?) opus. The quartet may well be a marvel of cyclic construction but, as it is presented here, it is simply a dense mass of rather ugly sounds.

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