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Recorded at Finchcocks on the splendid six-octave Viennese piano by Johann Fritz of c1814, this recording from The Music Collection pairs Schubert’s ever- popular ‘Trout’ quintet with a rather lesser-known work by Hummel for exactly the same combination of piano, violin, viola, cello and bass, and which has sometimes been considered an inspiration for Schubert’s quintet (though Hummel’s own arrangement of his Op. 74 Septet as a quintet is perhaps a more plausible influence). Finchcocks is an ideal space for such music, yet overall, one could wish for greater clarity of recorded sound on this disc.

The tersely argumentative opening of Hummel’s E flat minor quintet suffers significantly from the rather remote and unfocused capturing of detail, especially in the upper registers, and generally there is a disappointing lack of definition, undermining the piano and string textures. It may be that the relatively low a’=415Hz chosen for this recording slightly takes the edge offthe appealing sparkly sonorities that this superb piano can produce (for instance, in an a recent excellent recording of chamber music for piano and winds by Danzi). There is some nimble playing in the Hummel Minuet and Trio (actually a Scherzo in all but name) and in the third of Schubert’s ‘Trout’ variations, followed by a nicely paced finale.

John Irving Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing