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Franck’s Quintet must be one of the most muscularly romantic pieces of chamber music in the repertoire and the excellent Czech Wihan Quartet are just the players for it. This is a forceful performance, mature in every sense, and they know how to imbue it with grand passion without lapsing into garish sentimentality. The opening of the Lento second movement is delicious, making the most of Franck’s relish in melancholy. Shikimori matches them at every turn. The ensemble is immaculate with enough give and take to let individual flourishes come through, each always listening but with a different contribution to the conversation.

Fauré’s First Quintet is more gentle and the secret here is to catch the harmonic density while keeping the music fluid. They handle this balance beautifully, especially in the Adagio, which veers between the contemplative and a full-on lament. Here they lean into the beat, giving movement even while they adopt a very deliberate tempo. I would argue that the final Allegretto could do with a slightly lighter touch, a bit more air, than they give it. It is there in the first movement but the freshness dissipates towards the end. Overall, though, this is a disc to savour.

Simon Mundy Read the full review on Agora Classica


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