Dvorák: Chamber Music

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All one can regret about this admirable set of Dvorák chamber music is what it leaves out. Of course, one can understand omitting the Czech master's 14 string quartets -- surely an apt subject for a separate set -- but the inclusion of most but not all of his other chamber music works makes this set almost but not quite ideal. Most of the performances here are first-rate -- the Solomon Trio in the piano trios and the Stamitz Quartet in the string quintets are particularly fine -- some are even better -- pianist Sviatoslav Richter and the Borodin Quartet turn in fire-breathing versions of both piano quintets. Brilliant's inclusion of two discs of music for violin and piano in highly idiomatic performances by violinist Bohuslav Matousek and pianist Petr Adamec is especially welcome because, in addition to the well-known sonata and sonatina, they contain such gems as the Nocturno, the Romantisches Stücke, and four other lovely miniatures. Rounding out the set is a disc dedicated to hausmusik, including a charming performance of the Wind Serenade by the Nash Ensemble and a delightful set of the Bagatelles by the Alberni String Quartet. With the addition of the warm-hearted String Sextet, the adorable Terzetto, the chamber version of the beguiling Cypresses, and a few other works, this collection would be complete and well-neigh ideal. As it stands, it's nearly ideal. Brilliant's sound seems to be taken straight from the originals and most of the originals were solid early digital recordings with more depth and presence than most.

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