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The quintets by the Brazilian Oswald and New Englander Beach date from either side of the turn into the 20th century and sit stylistically in the realms of Schumann and Fauré. Beach’s has an underlying touch of melancholy, perhaps not surprising for a composer in a dull marriage who had just turned 40. It is a hugely satisfying work, though, opening with two Adagio movements and finishing with an Allegro agitato that just continues in the same uneasy spirit with more turmoil. Iruzun and the Coull Quartet give it the sympathetic dedication it richly deserves. The balance between the piano and quartet is well judged, the recording highlighting important voices without moving in too close. Iruzun integrates with the quartet seamlessly and throughout the ensemble is impressive.

Oswald was 15 years older than Beach and his music is a shade lighter in texture, though just as expressive. This is a traditional but carefully balanced work, written in Florence in 1895, that is a thoroughly enjoyable discovery: passionate late Romanticism at its most beguiling, interrupted by a short Scherzo. The luscious Adagio is as fine as anything in a similar genre from its time. Just because more famous composers wrote more famous pieces should not qualify this music for neglect.

Marlos Nobre (80 last year) is also from Brazil and his four-minute Poema XXI sounds destined to become a theme tune to something suitably gushy. This and the similarly smooching Romance of Beach’s, given sweet-toned treatment by Roger Coull, are delicious appendices to an otherwise serious disc of estimable quality that is well worth returning to.

Simon Mundy Read the full review on Agora Classica


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