Zukerman Chamber Players

Dvorák, Mozart: String Quintets

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Dvorák, Mozart: String Quintets Review

by Mike D. Brownell

Formed in 2002, the Zukerman Chamber Players were brought together by renowned violinist/violist/conductor Pinchas Zukerman in line with his continuing efforts to promote the talents of young artists. The four other protégés heard on this album are each accomplished musicians in their own right, each having performed on stages across the world. As their 2006 recording of the Mozart K. 515 and Brahms Op. 111 string quintets clearly demonstrated, however, simply putting together five gifted musicians, regardless of the caliber of their individual playing, does not guarantee a satisfying, desirable chamber music product. Sound quality and center of pitch need time to develop and mature, and despite the year that has passed between that recording and this one, this has not happened yet. Intonation between each of the five players remains approximate too often to consider this recording a viable choice for Mozart's K. 593 and Dvorak's Op. 97 string quintets. What's more, overall tone of the ensemble remains problematic, as it often sounds much more like five musicians each playing a part rather than one string quintet providing a single, unified vision and sound for the performance. Altara's recorded sound quality is extremely bright and nasal, a problem not uncommon in two-viola string quintets, but one that must be overcome to produce a more desirable sound.

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