Held in a retired 1904 Heimbach hydroelectric plant, the Spannungen Chamber Music Festival is an annual occurrence organized by pianist Lars Vogt. A variety of instrumentalists gather to perform a variety of chamber repertoire, from the familiar to the infrequently performed. The venue itself seems an unusual one for chamber music, and in fact live recordings made there do not yield the most ideal sound quality, producing a somewhat dead, flat backdrop (especially for string players). The present installment is no exception, especially dulling the otherwise fierce, energetic playing of cellist Gustav Rivinius in Schumann's Op. 102 5 Pieces in Folk Style. Faring slightly better are larger ensembles, like the string sextet performing Dvorák's Op. 48 Sextet, whose greater numbers produce a richer, more colorful recorded sound. The juxtaposition of six talented musicians who do not typically play together does have its problems, though; the sextet's intonation is not always polished, balance favors the upper strings, and tone varies between members. The program continues with an airy performance of Schumann's Op. 73 Fantasiestücke by clarinetist Jörg Widmann and a questionable arrangement of the same work for clarinet, flute, harp, and two violas by Aribert Reimann. All in all, the literature chosen for this disc (save for the Op. 73 arrangement) is quite enjoyable, but the performance -- particularly its sound quality -- is less remarkable.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|String Sextet in A major, Op. 48|
|Fantasiestücke for clarinet and piano, Op. 73|
|Five pieces in Folk style for cello and piano, Op. 102|
|Fantasiestücke for clarinet, flute, harp and two violas, Op. 73|