Alexander String Quartet / Joyce Yang

Dvorák: American Quartet; Piano Quintet in A major

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There is absolutely no shortage of recordings of these two popular Dvorák works, but this one is a standout. The Alexander String Quartet doesn't get quite the ink, or pixels, that it did when it was the new American phenomenon taking home big European prizes, but the group continues to deliver fine, well-chosen projects. Consider this pairing of the String Quartet in F major, Op. 96 ("American"), with the Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81. The latter work features Joyce Yang on piano, seamlessly adapting herself to the quartet's lively warmth. The "American" quartet is even better, with the group catching the dance rhythms that percolate throughout but are sometimes lost in the cool string quartet medium. Sample the Molto vivace Scherzo of the quartet, which has a lightness that has rarely been achieved elsewhere. Each movement of both works reveals original ideas, and the only complaint is the rather harsh church acoustic. Impressive work that adds to the sterling reputation of this ensemble.

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