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Adès & Schubert - Piano Quintets

Thomas Adès (piano) / Arditti (Adès) and Belcea (Schubert) String Quartets;
Corin Long (double bass)

This is an unusual juxtaposition of two quite separate recordings, made in different locations and with different production teams*. Both had been waiting for suitable couplings before release.

They are unified by having Thomas Adès as pianist in both; it will be interesting to discover whether their association makes for commercial success?

There is though something of another link. The Adès (July 2002 at Snape Maltings; Stephen Johns & Mike Clements) is an intriguing work, with an attractive transparency in the writing, the piano part never overwhelming the Arditti strings.

And Schubert's 'Trout' Quintet (Potton Hall September 2004; John Frazer and Arne Akselberg), with double bass replacing the Belcea's 2nd violin, has a comparable lucidity, with the piano often singing its melodies in octaves above the strings.

The Adès quintet (2001) is fully described by Tom Service as in a single movement of relatively strict sonata form, with exposition repeat; the themes subjected to 'rich and intricate processes of transformation'. For me, it had some of the qualities of a tone poem with story undisclosed. A piece that encourages quick rehearing.

The oft-recorded Trout receives a most affectionate performance which will find a high place amongst those recommended. Well balanced, it has all the spontaneity of a live performance and there is no hint of the (probable) multi-takes and edits of the digital studio recording.

Peter Grahame Woolf

If you can't read the microscopic details on the black-on-purple back cover illustrated above, nor could I without a magnifying glass and bright lighting. Insert booklet arts designers have a lot to answer for... PGW

** See concert review of Thomas Adès as conductor and pianist in the current festival of his music